ANAHEIM -- If Angels lefty Scott Downs keeps pitching the way he has, giving up no earned runs in 10 appearances and notching back-to-back clean saves, it'll be hard to ever pull him out of the ninth inning.
But the ideal scenario is still for Jordan Walden to work himself back to the closer's role, which gives Angels manager Mike Scioscia the ability to use Downs more freely -- to get tough lefty hitters out late in games, and to serve as an important bridge to the final frame.
"You lose that ability when he's closing," Scioscia said. "That's something you have to look at. Our optimum bullpen would have Scott be able to be that wild card, and be able to come in, whether it was the seventh or eighth inning, and then have arms to get those last outs. It might not get to that, but we'll see."
That'll hinge on Walden, who was temporarily stripped of his closer title after giving up a walk-off homer to the Rays' Brandon Allen on Thursday and is now working on command of his slider.
Walden is available to pitch in games now, but Scioscia would prefer that he get only in low-stress situations for now.
"I fully expect it to be temporary," Scioscia said. "The bottom line is we need arms in the back end of our 'pen holding leads. It has to be more than Scott Downs. Whether Jordan goes back to being closer -- which his stuff plays very well in the closer's role -- or if Scott Downs just takes off and runs with it and becomes a closer and somebody like Jordan Walden becomes a setup, we need depth at the back end of our bullpen."