Multi-inning relievers a priority for Angels

After Petit's stellar season, club hoping to strike gold again

Multi-inning relievers a priority for Angels

Coming out of Spring Training, the Angels had three relievers on their roster who they thought would be capable of pitching multiple innings: Yusmeiro Petit, JC Ramirez and Bud Norris. But injuries soon forced them to reallocate those arms.

When Garrett Richards landed on the disabled list in the first week of the season, Ramirez was pressed into the starting rotation. Injuries to Huston Street, Andrew Bailey and Cam Bedrosian, meanwhile, forced Norris into the closing role. That left Petit as the Angels' primary multi-inning reliever for most of the season, a role in which he excelled.

While their original plan did not play out as expected this year, finding other multi-inning relievers will continue to be a priority for the Angels as they look ahead to constructing their bullpen for next season.

"I love multi-inning guys," general manager Billy Eppler said during the Angels' end-of-season review earlier this month. "I believe every bullpen needs at least two guys that can pitch multiple innings. At least two."

Petit, who signed a Minor League deal in February and went on to make the team as a non-roster invitee, routinely demonstrated the value of having that type of weapon out of the bullpen, logging a 2.89 ERA over 87 1/3 relief innings for the Angels while keeping games close through the middle innings and helping to hold late leads.

The 32-year-old right-hander led the Majors with 33 relief outings of at least 1 1/3 innings and finished the season with a 2.2 WAR, the highest among the Angels' pitching staff, according to FanGraphs. In September, Petit's teammates recognized his efforts by selecting him for the club's Pitcher of the Year award.

But Petit is slated to become a free agent this winter, and Eppler deflected a question about the club's interest in retaining him for next season.

"He did a very, very great job for us," Eppler said. "He covers a number of different roles. A jack of all trades. It didn't matter if you brought him in the fifth inning, it didn't really matter if you brought him in the ninth. He was a very valuable guy for the club."

Pena K's the side

Should Petit sign elsewhere, the Angels will have to look to other relievers to help fill their multi-inning void. They already brought a potential replacement into the organization last week, acquiring right-hander Felix Pena from the Cubs in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later. Pena, 27, recorded a 5.24 ERA over 25 appearances in the Majors in 2017, including nine that spanned more than one inning.

Blake Wood and rookie Eduardo Paredes are also among the Angels' relievers under control next season who have regularly pitched in multi-inning stints in the past.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.