The Los Angeles Angels were not a bad team last season. They had a great defense that is slightly less great because they’ve replace Torii Hunter with Josh Hamilton, and they were fine offensively with Albert Pujols‘ slow start not hurting them too badly.Pitching was a problem – namely, the bullpen was a problem.
The Angels pen blew twenty-two saves last year. It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out what would have been the result of last regular season if you add twenty wins to the Angels total. In other words, not having a reliable closer was quite a humongous problem. They knew they had to fix that this off-season in some way. The problem is that they had spent a ton of money on free agents, or planned to. What could they do for a closer?
The answer is Ryan Madson. Madson last played in the majors in 2011 before going down with elbow problems. Now, after successful Tommy John surgery, he is on the roster for the Angels as their closer, and is ready to go. Madson was a fine closer before he got hurt. He might be just fine again. If he is, then the Angels might just walk away with the American League West this season.
I can think of two examples of closers who had elbow trouble. One is Joe Nathan, who the Texas Rangers signed off of injury last season. He did just fine, and there seemed to be no ill effects from his elbow trouble. The other example I think of is John Smoltz, who was never full healthy for a full season after his last bout with elbow trouble. Which way will Madson go? Considering his age, he will probably stay healthy. The Angels season might depend on how effective he can be.