The Angels made a minor transfer to bolster their aid corps over the weekend, buying veteran reliever Hunter Strickland from the Rays. Strickland has been efficient over the primary six weeks of the season, with a 1.62 ERA and a 2.83 FIP in 16 innings for Tampa Bay. In return for his providers, Los Angeles will hand over both money issues or a participant to be named later.
The Rays love reclamation initiatives, and Strickland was considered one of their newest, signing a minor-league cope with the workforce simply earlier than the beginning of spring coaching. It wasn’t Strickland’s first time. As soon as a rotation prospect with the Pirates — he was a Pink Sox draftee picked up within the Adam LaRoche commerce — he missed the 2011 season as a consequence of rotator cuff surgical procedure and was waived by Pittsburgh after a disappointing 2012 season. The Giants moved him to the bullpen, and the massive righty with large fastball appeared like a future nearer candidate. He additionally got here outfitted with an enormous mood, leading to such incidents and taking part in the cavalry basic for a bullpen cost into the Yasiel Puig–Madison Bumgarner incident, yelling at Salvador Perez after an Omar Infante homer within the 2014 World Sequence, and intentionally hitting Bryce Harper in 2017.
When somebody says there’s free meals within the breakroom pic.twitter.com/IiPyD1ZbXJ
— CBS Sports activities (@CBSSports) September 20, 2016
That hot-headedness led to a damaged hand that triggered him to overlook two months in 2018, the unsurprising results of punching a door after blowing a save, and the Giants non-tendered Strickland after that season.
Whereas baseball has been seemingly forgiving to temperamental closers, becoming with the historic trope of the place, groups are much less forgiving when poor play comes with it. On the floor, Strickland’s decline from 2014–15 appeared light, going from a 2.80 ERA in ’15–16 to three.21 for ’17–18. It was worse below the floor, along with his FIP going up by almost a full run (3.04 to three.97). Much more regarding, the standard of contact was bettering significantly, and his xERA went up yearly, from 2.90 in 2015 to three.38, 4.51, and 5.09 in his final 12 months with the Giants. It didn’t cease there, hitting 5.27 in 2019 with the Mariners and Nationals — the ERA belatedly rising to match that underlying efficiency. He earned a second World Sequence ring however didn’t even make the championship roster of the notoriously shallow Washington bullpen.
Strickland by no means put up enormous strikeout numbers, even at his greatest, with the largest wrongdoer being the dearth of efficient pitches aside from his fastball. His slurvey curve was by no means a real swing-and-miss pitch, nor was the slider he later discovered from John Smoltz. The changeup, intermittently deserted, by no means actually developed right into a constant software, and after holding lefties to a .220 wOBA in his rookie 2015 season, he allowed a .346 wOBA in opposition to them from ’16 to ’19. Shedding velocity on a fastball is one thing many pitchers have overcome, but it surely proved to be harder for Strickland, who was extraordinarily reliant on the pitch to get outs.
Strickland has seen his first success shortly in 2021. The slider nonetheless isn’t an out pitch, however his command has improved sufficient that he’s finding it extra persistently at a location tougher to golf into the stands, organising his fastball extra successfully. Throwing fewer pitches within the zone than at any level of his profession, his stroll charge has improved from its 2017–18 nadir.
He’s additionally labored on the mood situation. After the 2018 harm, Strickland saw a life coach and dug into anger administration books.
Wanting a brand new weapon in his repertoire, Strickland is unlikely to return to that energy nearer standing from his early Giants profession, however he ought to be capable to be a great depth pitcher, consuming up innings to save lots of the higher-leverage conditions for the gamers with the filthy sliders or the physics-defying changeups. That’s just about how the Rays have used him. In his rookie season, he made 21 appearances coming into video games with a leverage index of 1.50 or larger. For Tampa Bay, he’s solely appeared in a single high-leverage state of affairs: a fifth-inning look in opposition to the Royals after Brent Honeywell Jr. left a pair runners on.
Given the unlikely probability that there can be an enormous commerce bounty for Strickland later, his low pecking order within the Rays’ bullpen, and the returns of Pete Fairbanks and Collin McHugh to the lively roster, it’s not stunning to see Tampa Bay transfer him now. The necessity for the Angels was extra pressing. Junior Guerra and Chris Rodriguez have each gone down with accidents within the final two weeks, and their bullpen isn’t blessed with an abundance of depth. There’s a variety of baseball left, however at 6 1/2 video games again and fourth within the division, the Angels threat discovering themselves in a gap too deep to dig out of. They want greater than Strickland, however with the fourth-worst bullpen ERA in baseball at 5.25 and two months to go to the commerce deadline, this was a chance so as to add a much-needed aid arm.