Angels Blake Parker: Closer to own in 2018?
The Angels front office has been busy this offseason. The team could use an improvement in the bullpen. Is Blake Parker good enough to draft in 2018?
The Los Angeles Angels have shored up their offense with Zack Cozart and added a top starting pitcher with Shohei Ohtani. There is one position that could use an upgrade and that is the closer, and the bullpen overall. Currently, Blake Parker is atop the depth chart. Is he worth drafting as your third closer this season?
The Angels had a revolving door in the ninth inning. Eight different relievers recorded a save with Bud Norris leading the charge with 19. Parker was next with eight. Norris is now a free agent, giving Parker the job by default.
Along with his eight saves, Parker posted a 2.54 ERA, 0.832 WHIP, 11.5 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 67.1 innings. The increased strikeout rate was great to see from the 32-year-old pitcher.
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Parker saw a 4.6 percent increase in his line drive rate from 2016 to 2017 but saw his fly ball rate drop around the same percentage.
Keeping the ball on the ground is key to a closer’s success and longevity in the role. Opposing batters also made softer contact off Parker’s pitches, 21.9 percent last year.
Parker also improved his pitch location last season. Opposing batters were swinging at more pitches out of the strike zone and making less contact on his pitches in the zone. He has the makings to be a top-30 closer.
However, the Angels have another reliever that could take over the job at any point. Cam Bedrosian posted great numbers in 2016 but fell off some last season. While he did record six saves, he finished with a 4.43 ERA, 1.299 WHIP, 10.7 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 44.2 innings.
He has a tendency to leave pitches up for opposing batters, 40.3 fly ball rate and 10.4 HR/FB rate. Though, he has a 61.1 first pitch strike and 12.9 swinging strike percentage. Bedrosian is another hard thrower out of the bullpen for Los Angeles.
The market for top relief pitchers is dwindling, the Angels may be stuck with Parker and Bedrosian. That may not necessarily be a bad thing for the former as he has better control and doesn’t allow many free passes.
Looking ahead to 2018, Parker ranks just inside my top-40 relievers. He has an opportunity to record 20 saves, though Steamer believes Bedrosian will be the starting closer. Regardless, neither pitcher should be drafted before Round 20 as your No. 3 or 4 closer.