86 percent of Angels reliever Ernesto Frieri’s pitches thrown last season were fastballs. Despite the patently predictable approach, the 27-year-old has enjoyed immense success in his brief Major League career, owning a 2.32 ERA in 162.2 innings. He also has one of the highest strikeout rates among all relievers. Only five have posted a better K/9 since 2010 (minimum 100 IP as a reliever):
- Craig Kimbrel: 15.89
- Kenley Jansen: 14.58
- Aroldis Chapman: 14.13
- Carlos Marmol: 13.43
- Antonio Bastardo: 12.38
- Ernesto Frieri: 12.04
Frieri knows that Major League hitters can only be fooled by fastballs for so long, though, so he has worked on adding a cut fastball and a change-up to his arsenal this spring. Thus far, he is enjoying the results.
A day after Ernesto Frieri made his spring debut, he and catcher John Hester were both pleased with the development of the pitcher’s new cutter and changeup. Frieri was ecstatic after inducing a groundout on a changeup in Saturday’s game.
“That tells me everything I’m doing here, all the hard work, is good,” Frieri said this morning. “I’m going to continue doing it. That’s a good pitch, a really good pitch. I just need to get more comfortable and get more confidence, throw it like my fastball.”
Frieri allowed one hit in his only inning of work in spring training so far. The right-hander figures to be a crucial part of the back of the Angels’ bullpen behind closer Ryan Madson.
Angels catcher Chris Iannetta hasn’t appeared in a major league game since fracturing his right wrist on May 8. But that will change on Sunday afternoon.
According to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez, Iannetta has been activated from the disabled list and will start behind the plate in the Angels’ series-finale with the Rays. It’ll also be Zack Greinke’s Angels debut. John Hester was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake to clear a spot on Anaheim’s 25-man roster.
Iannetta, 29, was batting just .197 with a .706 OPS through his first 26 games this season. The .233/.356/.429 career hitter is obviously capable of much better and could further bolster the Halos’ dangerous offensive attack for the stretch run.
The Angels entered play Saturday with a 55-45 record, ranking second in the four-team AL West.
Howie Kendrick booted a grounder, Brett Lawrie was aggressive and now the Angels are mad.
With the bases loaded and none out in the sixth inning today in the game between the Angels and Blue Jays, Jose Bautista hit a grounder to second that looked like a potential double-play ball for Kendrick. Only the ball got through him. After running the ball down, Kendrick, failing to appraise the situation, flipped it to Erick Aybar at second base. Lawrie, who went from second to third initially, took advantage and dashed off for home.
That’s where things got dicey. Catcher John Hester got in front of the plate and had to reach up for the throw. Lawrie, instead of going for home plate, decided to deliver a forearm to Hester’s mask and try to dislodge the ball. He failed in that and he missed home plate afterwards, but he also never appeared to be tagged on the play. At that point, he jumped up to try to touch home plate, Hester dove to try to tag him and he ended up being ruled safe by umpire James Hoye.
It seemed to be the right call; replays weren’t conclusive, but it didn’t look like the tag was ever made. Nonetheless, Mike Scioscia was ejected for arguing. Also, Lawrie and Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher started jawing from their respective dugouts.
Lawrie figures to bat once more today, and unless it comes in a big situation, it’d be a surprise if the Angels don’t plunk him. They clearly weren’t happy with his hit on Hester, and his jawing afterwards couldn’t have helped matters.
Bad news for the Halos: catcher Chris Iannetta needs wrist surgery and will miss 6-8 weeks, Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times reports.
Iannetta was injured while catching Jered Weaver in the no-hitter against the Twins on May 2 and didn’t start for three days afterwards. Since returning to the lineup, he’d gone 0-for-7 with a couple of walks, dropping his average from .220 to .197 and his OPS from .764 to .706.
The injury is really poorly timed for the Angels. Hank Conger, who would be the obvious choice to be called up to the majors and start in Iannetta’s place, is on the DL at Triple-A Salt Lake due to a sprained elbow. He was hitting .357/.390/.554 in 56 at-bats before getting hurt.
Until Conger is ready, the Angels will have to get by with Bobby Wilson and either Robinzon Diaz or John Hester behind the plate. Wilson has hit .222/.300/.222 in 27 at-bats as Iannetta’s backup this season. Diaz and Hester are minor league veterans without much in the way of offensive ability.
Meanwhile, Jeff Mathis, maybe the game’s worst hitter in his last couple of years as the Angels’ part-time catcher, has somehow managed to post a 1.050 OPS in his 20 at-bats with the Blue Jays thus far. Mike Scioscia is probably wishing he was still around right now.