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Arredondo goes from 10-2 with 1.62 ERA to Triple-A

Jun 10, 2009, 1:50 PM EDT

Jose Arredondo began last season in the minors, but quickly joined the
Angels’ bullpen and went 10-2 with a 1.62 ERA and .190 opponents’
batting average in 61 innings while gradually moving past Scot Shields
to become Francisco Rodriguez’s primary setup man.

Rather than turn to Arredondo as their new closer when Rodriguez
departed as a free agent this offseason, the Angels signed Brian
Fuentes to take over ninth-inning duties and left Arredondo in a setup
role … where he’s posted a 5.55 ERA in 25 appearances.

Arredondo was demoted to Triple-A this morning, with manager Mike Scioscia explaining
that he “needs to work some things out” and “has obviously taken a
small step backwards.” There’s no getting around the fact that
Arredondo has allowed far more hits and runs than last year, but
delving a little deeper into his performance reveals some interesting
things.

While certainly very good, his 57/22 K/BB ratio in 61 innings last
season wouldn’t normally produce a 1.62 ERA or .190 opponents’ batting
average. Arredondo was extremely fortunate in terms of his balls in
play being converted into outs, which the Angels’ defense accomplished
an astounding 76 percent of the time compared to the AL average of 69
percent.

The opposite has been true this year, as his 27/12 K/BB ratio in 24
innings is much better than his 5.55 ERA–and not far from his 2008
rates–but the Angels’ defense has turned his balls in play into outs
just 60 percent of the time. Scioscia is no doubt right that he could
stand to work on some things and his increased line-drive rate has also
played a part in the ball-in-play numbers, but the biggest difference
between last year’s 1.62 ERA and this year’s 5.55 ERA basically boils
down to luck.

Last season Arredondo struck out 23 percent of the batters he faced,
walked 9 percent of the batters he faced, induced 51 percent ground
balls, and served up two homers in 244 plate appearances. This season
Arredondo has struck out 25 percent of his batters faced, walked 9
percent of his batters faced, induced 49 percent ground balls, and
served up zero homers in 110 plate appearances.

The nuts and bolts of his performance really haven’t changed much at
all, and in fact in some ways have actually improved. As usual focusing
on ERA fails to tell the whole story, particularly for relief pitchers,
and a deeper look at Arredondo’s numbers suggests that he would have
turned things around soon enough. However, the guy with a 1.62 ERA from
last season likely isn’t coming back because he never really existed
outside of a world where the defense behind him is played by four Ozzie
Smiths and three Willie Mayses.

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