It may finally be time for the Los Angeles Angels to start heading in another direction with Ernesto Frieri.
In Tuesday’s game against the New York Yankees, Frieri suffered his third loss of the young season as he allowed his sixth home run that has further ballooned his ERA to 6.28 in just 14.1 innings pitched in 16 appearances. The 28-year-old’s unreliability this year has hampered the Halos’ success late in games.
His struggles this year has forced Los Angeles to demote him from the team’s closer role. The right-hander’s pitching woes have been an ongoing problem from last season, where he posted career-worsts in ERA (.3.80), home runs (11), hits allowed (55) and blown saves (four) despite recording a career-best 37 saves. This year, Frieri has been very hit-or-miss. When he is off by just a small margin, it tends to snowball on him, leading to big innings for opponents.
When it comes down to it, Frieri does not possess the “it” factor that is needed to be reliable closer that the Halos need. The pitcher who has the “it” factor is Joe Smith, who has three saves in as many opportunities, but has not pitched since his last save against the Cleveland Indians on May 3 due to tightness on his right side. With Smith sidelined, it has forced the Halos to go back to the struggling Frieri.
But when Smith returns from his injury, the Angels must make the decision to move on from Frieri as the team’s closer because if the demotion proved anything, it was that Smith is guy the team must continue to use.
This is not to suggest that Frieri will not be of any use to the Angels, but he is just not the pitcher the Halos need to rely on night in and night out to close out games. If he is put in that position again, the same problems will keep surfacing.