Picking up slack for Shields, Arredondo

In the absence of Scot Shields and Jose Arredondo — the two set-up artists most responsible for getting the ball to Francisco Rodriguez for 69 save opportunities last season — the Angels suddenly are getting some consistent production.

Veterans Justin Speier and Darren Oliver and right-handers Jason Bulger and Kevin Jepsen have been solid in the seventh and eighth innings during the Angels’ recent run of high-caliber play, primarily against a National League West that the record shows has been the best of the NL’s three divisions this season.

Bulger, who worked two scoreless innings to wrap up Friday night’s 12-3 decision over the D-backs, has had 20 clean outings — giving up no runs — in his past 23 appearances. The D-backs first-round pick in 2001, Bulger is putting it together this season, finding consistency with his fastball command and his big curveball with an occasional changeup helping keep hitters off balance.

Bulger’s ERA is 4.78 — not where he’d like it to be — but that is mainly a reflection of three grand slams he has yielded. Right-handers are batting only .207 against him.

Speier has shaved his ERA to a more respectable 4.33 by yielding only three earned runs across his past 16 innings (1.69). With 19 of his past 25 outings clean, he has stranded seven of eight inherited runners. That’s always a good way to enhance your popularity among teammates.

Oliver, as cool as any pitcher in the game, owns a 3.09 ERA after his scoreless inning on Friday night. Going back to last season, the classy lefty has kept the opposition scoreless in 41 of 52 appearances.

Jepsen, who lost his rhythm while experiencing back issues early in the season, appears to be back in a nice groove, with five of his past seven appearances scoreless. It will take him several months to get his 11.81 ERA down to a respectable level, but he appears to be moving in that direction.

Hoping to find consistent form are Rich Thompson and Rafael Rodriguez, a pair of talented right-handers. The stuff is excellent. It’s just a matter of putting it together.  

3 Comments

Our loss is your gain. :-P Ah, well, that’s (minor-league) baseball. Particularly nice to hear about Bulger’s development. It always seemed as though he was at the brink, with a little confidence in his off-speed stuff being the last piece.

Go get ‘em boys! . . .BeesGal
http://www.chiburibird.net/sporkballblog/

That is great that Spier, Jepsen and Bulger have been experiencing better success as of late. I think it is important that we continue to development our young talent in Jepsen and Bulger. However, let’s be realistic, these guys are not going to put us over the top this year. They are another year or so from being reliable day in and day out. Oliver is really the only current guy I have any real confidence in during the late innings. Not even Fuentes has impressed me much despite his # of saves. I hope he proves me wrong. I am a season seat holder and long time Angel faithful, but I do not think we have the bullpen to put us over the top in the playoffs. We need to get there first though. Unless we get all of our starters back and move someone to the bullpen, we are likely to get bounced from the playoffs early, if we get there. We need a free agent signing or a trade to bring in some help. We need to win today. We finally have the hitting this year, but inconsistent bullpen.

That is great that Spier, Jepsen and Bulger have been experiencing better success as of late. I think it is important that we continue to development our young talent in Jepsen and Bulger. However, let’s be realistic, these guys are not going to put us over the top this year. They are another year or so from being reliable day in and day out. Oliver is really the only current guy I have any real confidence in during the late innings. Not even Fuentes has impressed me much despite his # of saves. I hope he proves me wrong. I am a season seat holder and long time Angel faithful, but I do not think we have the bullpen to put us over the top in the playoffs. We need to get there first though. Unless we get all of our starters back and move someone to the bullpen, we are likely to get bounced from the playoffs early, if we get there. We need a free agent signing or a trade to bring in some help. We need to win today. We finally have the hitting this year, but inconsistent bullpen.

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