It looks like things are off to a terribly slow start in Anaheim once again; fortunately all us Angel fans are more than acquainted with slow starts from this team. The experience from last year just means the Angels fan base has the experience to know that we CAN furiously push on the panic this early.
Now I do understand that things are off to a more unfortunate start than a slow start if anything with Weaver out for 4-6 weeks and Aybar being pulled out of last night’s game, but aside from that there's absolutely no reason to be pushing the panic button already. Oh, you mean we went 2-4 to start the season, on the road, against playoff contenders. The Angels weren't fighting tooth and nail against Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum to pull together pathetic victories; they went up against some of the best teams in baseball in the Cincinnati Reds and Texas Rangers. The fact that they lost the home opener to a red-hot playoff contender AND division rival doesn't do much to inspire panic in me, especially when the finishing blow was delivered by a notoriously unreliable reliever. As a matter of fact, I actually think that a lot of this bad streak to start the season is good for the Angels. Aside from losing Weaver and Aybar most of everything that's been going on for the Angels has been good for the team. Why?
For starters, this is the kind of bad streak that weeds out the "haves" from the "have not’s" on this team. Most importantly, we have been able to establish very early on the Scott Downs and Kevin Jepsen are relievers not to be trusted with close games. Jepsen has been notorious throughout his whole career with the Angels for being wildly unreliable; he's a guy who may show up with good enough stuff to get through an inning, but he is also just as likely to turn up with a jerry can full of gasoline ready to "light this baby up". Allowing Jepsen to come into close games consistently is just asking for serious trouble, and it's not like the Angels don't have better options in the 'pen this time around. The only time Jepsen should be allowed to pitch in a game is with a lead greater or equal to 3, anything less is putting the team in a risky situation. Jepsen isn't the kind of reliever who will fall apart for an inning but will only give up a few hits and a run or two. No, Jepsen is a guy who will let the team break the game completely open (which is exactly what we saw in the Angels home opener). Just like his appearance last night, in which he gave up 4 runs off two homers in 0.1 inning, Jepsen will make himself prone to the home-run ball and the big hit.
Scott Downs, on the other hand, used to be incredibly reliable until the last half of 2012. Unfortunately it seems his age and fragile nature have caught up with him and made him go from being a wildly popular reliever to someone who should be stuck in the back of the 'pen. As shown in the home opener Downs couldn't come into the game without automatically turning it into a crapfest. Nothing can be considered "safe" with these two, especially a 1 run game against a crazy hot division rival. The good thing about these 2 relievers is that they've established their inability to pitch in close games early enough that Scioscia can effectively remove them from their duties and entrust other relievers with their roles. Sean Burnett may have been brought in as a lefty-heavy specialist, but he can get right-handed hitters out at a FAR better pace than Downs. Downs can't even get lefties out anymore, his job needs to be given to someone who has at least hasn't proven to be terribly unreliable. The key this year is Scioscia's ability to recognize these inefficiencies and replace them instead of letting the issues drag itself out as far as it possibly can until people start questioning his job. Fortunately I do not see that happening as Scioscia has had to have learned that his stubbornness does not work anymore. This bad streak is good for the Angels in that it has highlighted enough of our biggest problems that the management should be able to swiftly move in and fix everything up in an instant.no comments