OAKLAND -- If Sunday's small sample size was any indication, rookie Nick Maronde could become an important second lefty in the Angels' bullpen down the stretch.
Maronde was among those called up the first day rosters expanded on Saturday and made his Major League debut two days later in Seattle, taking over for Jered Weaver with one out, two on and a one-run deficit in the sixth inning, promptly striking out the lefty-hitting Carlos Peguero with three straight fastballs.
Said Maronde: "I was pretty jacked up."
It's manager Mike Scioscia who would be pretty jacked up if Maronde, listed as the Angels' No. 4 prospect, can consistently get lefty hitters out early in games, with fellow lefty Scott Downs being restricted to the very back end of his bullpen. The Angels didn't have that in Hisanori Takahashi, who wasn't particularly good against left-handed hitters and was recently claimed off waivers by the Pirates.
The verdict is still out on Maronde, especially since he's been a starter since the Angels took him in the third round of the 2011 Draft. But Maronde has a very good fastball-slider combo that plays against lefty hitters and spent his final two years at the University of Florida as a closer and setup man.
"I think I'm fairly deceptive to lefties," Maronde assessed. "I don't think they really see the ball that well against me."
As a junior at Florida, Maronde posted a 2.09 ERA in 43 innings, collecting 55 strikeouts and nine walks before being transitioned to the rotation in the pros, where his changeup would get more play. In 2012, he jumped three levels in the Minors, combining to post a 2.26 ERA and a 4.74 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 20 games (18 starts).
Can he make the transition from starter to situational lefty?
"Nick's got a good fastball, he throws strikes, he has a very low walk rate, he challenges people," said Angels assistant general manager Scott Servais, who oversees scouting and player development. "Obviously, it's happened very quick for him. There's still a lot of things for him to work on. Long-term, is he a starter, is he a reliever? I don't know. I know right now he has a chance to impact and help our club out of the bullpen, and we thought let's just get as many good arms as we can in there and then let Mike decide how he wants to use him."