I had hoped to be able to retire the Bullpen of Perpetual Sorrow moniker this year, but through two games, that hope has been dashed against the rocks.
But it is only two games. We are obviously predisposed to expect this relief corps to suck since the have sucked for a few years in a row now, so would we not be justified in freaking out about how bad they are after just two games?
Methinks… maybe. Freaking out after two games is inherently stupid, but this is a massive weakness that has not been sufficiently addressed at any point of Dipoto’s tenure. Signing Joe Smith this offseason helped, but we haven’t seen Smith yet. We might not see Smith very much if the middle relievers are inept at actually handing a lead over to their new setup man. As of now, it very much appears the team is one or two relievers short.
The good news is that they should get one of those relievers back soon. Dane De La Rosa is expected to return in the next two weeks and while he doesn’t have a long track record, he was very good in 2013. He’s certainly better Jepsen, Kohn and Salas. They might even get another reliever back not long after that if Sean Burnett‘s rehab keeps going well. Nobody would blame you if you were dubious of that happening. However, if it does, and Burnett is his old self, the Angels will have a top-notch lefty reliever and can banish Nick Maronde back to the minors. It is a bullpen that hardly conjures up memories of the Donnelly-Shields-K-Rod-Percival heyday, but it can be not terrible. “Not terrible” would actually be a big step forward, sadly.
But lo, there is still more reason to not give up hope. Unlike the past two years, there might actually be help on the way from the minors. Mike Morin and R.J. Alvarez are not far off from being big league ready and both have the potential to be legitimate impact arms. They may not be ready to be saviors, but at least they are options. Options are things the woeful 2013 Angels were sorely lacking.
However, the Angels will need to act quickly and decisively to make sure things don’t spin out of control. One or two bad months from the bullpen could put the Angels into the land of the unsalvageable. If Scioscia wants to give Salas a few more chances to earn his trust, fine. Just don’t give him two months. If he wants to see if Kohn can continue to miss bats but keep the homers to a minimum, fine. Just be ready to cut the cord once it becomes apparent that Kohn cannot keep the ball in the park. If he wants to show faith in Kevin Jepsen… well, fuck that. That’s stupid.
Basically, let’s see what happens when De La Rosa and Burnett are healthy and then decide if the back end of the ‘pen still needs an overhaul. Until then, keep your impulse to freak out holstered. Chambered, but holstered.