Angels GM Jerry DiPoto: “Ernesto Frieri is our closer”
Reports have surfaced over the past few weeks indicating the Los Angeles Angels could be a potential landing spot for free agent closers this winter. However, team General Manager Jerry DiPoto says otherwise.
In a radio interview with Sirius XM’s MLB Network Radio, DiPoto told host Mel Antonen that the club is not looking to add another closer, as the team’s 9th inning-man from this last season, Ernesto Frieri, will keep his closer duties in 2014. Hardball Talk’s D.J. Short says, “While this sounds like a vote of confidence, it could be an attempt to downplay interest in some of the big-name closers on the market, including Joe Nathan and Grant Balfour.”
Frieri, 28, who was virtually unhittable in 2012, was less effective this past season, posting a 3.80 ERA, a 98:30 K:BB ratio, and allowing eleven home runs (he allowed a combined twelve in 2011 and 2012). He was 37-for-41 in save opportunities, which happened to be good enough for 7th in the American League.
The fly ball pitcher has one glaring issue, and that’s getting right-handed hitters out. Lefties can’t touch the guy, as they hit a cumulative .155 with a .310 OPS off of Frieri, while righties went to town of off the flame-thrower, posting a .292 average with an .826 OPS against him. He also struggled big-time in the second half, as his ERA rose from 2.88 to 5.14.
The club signed reliever Joe Smith Saturday night, who has never been a closer in his seven big league seasons, but pitches extremely well in high-leverage situations, as his .307 opponent OPS in those predicaments shows.
Frieri is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter.
Images courtesy of Zimbio.com.
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