Brian Fuentes may have racked up 48 saves in 2009 for the Angels, but he did so with fans reaching for the bottle.
Fuentes racked up a 3.93 ERA and 1.40 WHIP last season and yet blew just seven saves. As a result, he entered 2010 as the closer despite the team importing Fernando Rodney, formerly of the Tigers.
Fuentes' grip on the closer's gig may be loosening, however, despite manager Mike Scioscia's vote of confidence on Sunday.
"You’re grading on saves and save opportunities and how you’re holding leads if you’re a setup guy -- the things that are important to a team winning games and ERA’s not one of them," Scioscia said to the Orange County Register .
The skipper was referring to Fuente's implosion on Sunday, allowing three runs in the eighth inning during mopup duty. Fuentes was in the game due to not having pitched in a week, but instead saw his ERA spike to 6.23 and WHIP to 1.44.
"A couple bad outings and it’s going to take a long time to get that ERA back where it needs to be," Scioscia said.
He's right, but actions speak louder than words. He summoned Fernando Rodney for a save last Wednesday, and now has six on the season to Fuentes' 10. Rodney's WHIP is not much better than Fuentes at 1.40 but has been able to maintain a 3.29 ERA despite evidence pointing to poor play (his xFIP is 5.12).
Don't be surprised to see the Angels go get late-inning help as the trade deadline nears. The squad is just 3.5 games out of first place despite ranking 27th in baseball in bullpen ERA at 4.98.
-- Evan Brunell
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