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Otherwise known as the day the Angels improved their pitching staff thanks to the healing process.
After a rough first week, the Angels bullpen now sits with the fifth-best earned run average in baseball. Downs, the Angels big free agent addition, has gotten off to a rocky start. A broken toe during the spring and a stomach virus means his next appearance will be his third in an Angels uniform.
When right, Downs is one of the game’s best left-handed relievers. Equipped with weaponry to win battles with lefties and righties alike, Downs last allowed an aggregate OPS over 700 to righties in 2006 and has limited lefties to one year above 700 since 2004 (that coming in 2009). Along with Jordan Walden, Fernando Rodney, and fellow southpaw Hisanori Takahashi, Mike Scioscia should have enough viable late-inning options to close out most games.
With Downs coming, Bulger is going. Scioscia watched in horror as Bulger’s first two appearances came in the 11th inning of tied games and resulted in five innings pitched and eight walks allowed (one intentional). Bulger’s 0.96 ERA is deceiving, as teams have actually plated four runs against him, but only one counted as earned. A putrid strikeout-to-walk ratio (.70) and a pair of home runs allowed already (he gave up three in 24 innings last season) meant Bulger’s days with a shiny ERA were limited. Perhaps another team will plug Bulger in, but he is close to replacement level.
Shoulder tightness delayed Pineiro’s season debut until the final weekend of April, but the righty appears ready to go after a rehab start with Advanced-A Inland Empire. Pineiro takes the spot of Matt Palmer in a move that figures to improve the staff quality. Palmer might find himself starting for Pineiro again at some point this season, but for now, the Angels get an upgrade.
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