Despite making a move for closer Jason Grilli, the Los Angeles Angels keep using Joe Smith has their closer and rightfully so. He will remain as the closer for the rest of the season.
Prior to taking over for Ernesto Frieri, Smith had very little closer experience. From 2007 to 2013, he recorded just three saves (all in 2013). He was the set-up man before Frieri fell off the cliff. Smith recorded seven saves with a 3.03 ERA before the trade took place.
When the trade happened, many (including myself) expected Grilli to take over as the closer sooner rather than later. However, that is not the case so far. Grilli has been used in the later innings. He hasn’t been bad, but compared to his 2014 numbers, that’s not hard. Since joining the Angels, he has pitched in 2.1 innings, allowed one hit and walk while striking out two batters. He has recorded one hold and a loss.
Smith has converted his last four save opportunities, including two during a double-header on Tuesday. Two saves in one day. Remarkable. In his last five outings, he pitched in four innings, allowing just four hits while striking out five.
The fact that he was called upon in two games on the same day speaks volumes of the confidence management has in Smith. He is owned in 68 percent of ESPN.com leagues, an increase of 50.4 percent over the last two weeks. He has a 2.78 ERA and 1.04 WHIP on the season.
If you have a pitching spot open or can dump off a struggling player, pick up Smith in their place. Until he shows signs of fatigue or bad ball control, Smith will keep racking up saves for the Angels.