The Los Angeles Angels will host the Oakland A's on Saturday night in Anaheim, Calif., looking to get their bullpen back to where it was in the first six weeks of the season.
Heading into Friday's 4-2 loss to the A's, the Angels' bullpen ranked 15th in the majors with a 3.72 ERA. While it's in the middle of the pack, it has vastly improved from last season, when it ranked No. 24 out of the 30 clubs with a 4.59 ERA.
But the staff hit a snag recently in being swept by the Texas Rangers. The Angels gave up 23 runs in the three games, 12 of which were allowed by the bullpen.
Closer Raisel Iglesias had been 8-for-8 in save opportunities, but he gave up walk-off homers in back-to-back appearances against the A's last Saturday and against the Rangers on Wednesday.
And set-up man Ryan Tepera saw his season ERA balloon from 2.08 to 4.67 after allowing five runs in his appearance last Tuesday against the Rangers when he did not record an out.
"We will get our bullpen right; I have a lot of faith in these guys," Angels manager Joe Maddon said.
Tepera and left-hander Aaron Loup are newcomers to the Angels and have been a vital part of the bullpen's success, adding quality and depth.
"The bullpen is used more in today's game, and I've always said that you have to be able to use everybody," Loup said. "If you don't have the confidence to throw, say, your lowest guy on the totem pole in a big situation, then we're not going to be any good."
Right-hander Michael Lorenzen (4-2, 3.57 ERA) will start for the Angels on Saturday, his seventh start of the season. He is 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA in two career games (one start) against Oakland.
Frankie Montas (2-4, 3.67) will make his ninth start of the season for Oakland. The right-hander is coming off a loss against the Angels in his last appearance, though he allowed just two runs and five hits in six innings.
Those two runs came on a first-inning home run by Shohei Ohtani, after which Montas held the potent Anaheim offense in check. Though Montas' record does not reflect it, A's manager Mark Kotsay said Montas is still a force on the mound because of his splitter.
"It's one of the better split-finger fastballs in the game right now," Kotsay said. "I faced some good splits in the past. Curt Schilling comes to mind right away. John Smoltz and some others. From our vantage point in the dugout, it gets to the hitting zone and just falls down."
Montas has faced the Angels 14 times (11 starts) in his career. He is 4-2 with a 2.36 ERA against them. Montas has had success in his career against Mike Trout, holding the Angels' center fielder to three hits in 15 at-bats, with four strikeouts.
Angels right fielder Taylor Ward is questionable for Saturday's game after leaving Friday's game in the ninth inning. Ward ran face-first into the right-field wall while making a catch of a fly ball hit by Oakland's Tony Kemp.
--Field Level Media