LA Angels: Ernesto Frieri, Dane de la Rosa Battling For 2014 Closer Job?

By Randy Holt
Ernesto Frieri
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels are going nowhere fast. They’ll likely finish in at least third in the American League West this year, potentially fourth and are facing a possible overhaul, at least as far as the coaching staff is concerned, heading into the 2014 season. It’ll be interesting to see how things shake out in regard to their roster, but at least one position battle could be taking place right now.

The Angels rolled through the 2012 season with Ernesto Frieri as their ninth inning guy. His first season with the Halos proved to be a successful one. He locked down the closer’s job, saved 23 games, finished with a 2.32 ERA and an outstanding strikeouts per nine that stood over 13. He hasn’t fared as well this season, though his strikeout numbers are still impressive. One explanation is his opposing BABIP, which has sky-rocketed, from .208 last season, to .318 this year.

When the club signed Ryan Madson over the winter, many wondered if Frieri’s job was at stake. The Madson signing never worked out because of health issues, and he was eventually released. Only recently has Frieri’s job security been called into question, despite his struggles, which may not bode well for him moving forward.

Mike Scioscia came out and said that Frieri would share closing duties for the remainder of the year with Dane de la Rosa. He has closing experience in the minor leagues, but de la Rosa’s ninth inning experience at the big league level is extremely limited. Still, this is an experiment worth conducting.

De la Rosa doesn’t boast the strikeout numbers that Frieri does, but he’s efficient nonetheless. He has a solid ERA at 3.56, and a very good looking FIP, which currently sits at 2.97. His walk numbers are lower than Frieri’s, and he doesn’t surrender the long ball nearly as much.

Essentially, this can be looked at as something of an audition for next season. We don’t know if the Angels will roll with one of these two options as a closer next season, or if they’ll seek an outside solution. Regardless, it’s worth giving de la Rosa some time in the ninth, and seeing if he has the chops to be a potential closer in the future. At this point in the season, with the Angels where they are, it’s something that is worth a look.

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