The Los Angeles Angels made another move on Tuesday to improve their bullpen by acquiring veteran left-hander reliever Rich Hill, and it won’t be the last deal the team makes prior to the trade deadline.
Los Angeles has made two transactions in the last five days by acquiring Hill and trading struggling closer Ernesto Frieri in a one-for-one swap with the Pittsburgh Pirates for closer Jason Grilli. What these two moves show is that the Halos are serious about remaining in contention for a playoff spot and possibly making a run at their first AL West division title since 2009.
These bullpen additions could not have come at a better time given that the team is just 3.5 games back of the Oakland Athletics after sweeping a doubleheader on Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox to push them a season-high 12 games over .500 at 47-35. If the Angels expect to keep their chances alive in the AL West, it is going to start with pitching in particular in the bullpen. They are currently 24th in ERA (4.24), fourth in most home runs allowed (28) and seventh in most walked (111).
Those kind of numbers have led them to make improvements to their bullpen via trades with Grilli and Hill, who can both help the team in their set roles. Los Angeles is hopeful that Grilli will come in and solidify the closer spot if he is able to channel some of his 2013 All-Star form that saw him hold a 2.70 ERA and convert a career-best 33 saves in 35 opportunities. The 37-year-old has struggled this season (0-3 record, 4.37 ERA in 22 appearances), but a change scenery could get him back on track.
As for Hill, he is strictly coming in to be a reliever who pitches against left-handed hitters as he had success against them last season for the Cleveland Indians with a .238 BAA despite holding a 6.28 ERA in 63 appearances. In 2014, the nine-year veteran had a 3.23 ERA, 45 strikeouts, zero home runs allowed and a .206 BAA in 39 innings at the Triple-A level with the Red Sox’ organization.
These are just the first steps the team has taken to solidify their bullpen prior to the trade deadline. Additional moves for San Diego Padres‘ Huston Street or Philadelphia Phillies‘ Jonathan Papelbon could also be in the cards for Los Angeles. A trade for a starting pitcher like David Price is a possibility, as over the past week the Halos have been linked to the former AL Cy Young award winner. All in all, the Angels are a team that is eying the postseason. With that in mind, expect them to look into every option in the trade market that can help improve their ball club’s playoff chances.