Last offseason the Los Angeles Angels signed left-handed relief pitcher Sean Burnett to a two-year, $9.5 million contract with the hopes that he would help solidify their bullpen.
The 31-year-old’s 2013 season was a vast disappoint for him and the Halos as he only had 13 appearances with 0.93 ERA with seven strikeouts, and five holds in 9.2 innings pitched. His season was cut short after he began having issues with his throwing elbow that persisted to give him problems, and eventually forced him to undergo season-ending surgery to repair a small tear in his flexor tendon in his left elbow.
The Angels had expected Burnett to step in as the team’s setup man to closer Ernesto Frieri. During his four seasons with the Washington Nationals, the left-hander thrived in that role as evident by his impressive 2010 season where he had a career-best 2.12 ERA with a 1-7 record, 62 strikeouts, 20 holds, 1.14 WHIP and three saves in 63.0 innings pitched.
After a subpar 2011 season, he once again pitched with some dominance in 2012 as he had a 2.38 ERA with a 1-2 record, 57 strikeouts, 1.24 WHIP, a career-best 31 holds and two saves in 56.2 innings pitched. So with that said, Burnett’s resume prior to the 2013 season was what exactly the Angels were looking for in a setup man, but it proved to be the exact opposite last season for the seven-year veteran.
So for the upcoming 2014 season, Burnett has a chance to get back onto the mound and prove that he can once again be that dominate left-hander out of the bullpen. The Halos are hoping that he can recapture his form that he had prior to the elbow surgery as their bullpen last season struggled mightily as they held the seventh-highest ERA (4.23) and allowed the fourth most hits (1,475) in the majors.
If Burnett can be any essence of the pitcher he was in the 2012 regular season coupled with the addition of Joe Smith, it would be major step in solidifying the bullpen, and help make Freiri’s job an easier task with a smoother transition in the seventh and eighth innings of games.