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The Angels may have found their closer in Ernesto Frieri

May 23, 2012, 9:00 PM EDT

Ernesto Frieri Getty Images

Ernesto Frieri was plenty good in a year and a half with the Padres, yet manager Bud Black never seemed to want to trust him in close games. Perhaps that was a mistake.

Frieri struck out the side in the 11th inning to earn his first career save as the Angels beat the A’s 3-1 on Thursday. In nine appearances for the Halos, he’s yet to allow a hit and he’s struck out 19 in 8 2/3 scoreless innings.

Command has always been Frieri’s biggest problem. He did walk a batter today, giving him six walks in his time with the Angels. Overall, he’s walked 62 batters in 117 innings as a major leaguer. However, that comes with a 2.15 ERA and 156 strikeouts.

The Padres couldn’t get past the walks. Last year, Frieri made 59 appearances and picked up a win (1), a loss (2), a hold (4) or a blown save (0) in just seven of them. Mostly, he pitched in games that were already decided. He pitched 14 2/3 scoreless innings in his final 14 appearances of the season, but 10 of those games were losses and the four wins were by 10, six, four and seven runs.

The Angels thus far have found no fault with Frieri. All but one of his nine appearances have come in a win and the one loss he appeared in was a 3-2 game. He’s been flat-out dominant in all of them. For the modest price of Alexi Amarista and Donn Roach, the Angels appear to have found the right-handed reliever they needed, and with Jordan Walden also having turned it around, the bullpen has suddenly become a strength, rather than a weakness. Score one for new GM Jerry DiPoto, who saw plenty of Frieri while with the Diamondbacks.

  1. micker716 - May 23, 2012 at 10:11 PM

    There are a couple reasons Bud Black never needed to turn to Frieri in close games: Mike Adams and Heath Bell. Yeah, I know, that Heath Bell.

  2. rcali - May 23, 2012 at 10:23 PM

    Frieri is going to be a solid set-up guy when they put Walden back in as the Closer.

  3. jimatkins - May 23, 2012 at 10:50 PM

    I’m just happy something is working right for the Halos. I’m taking a lot of flak from Dodger fans at work lately.

    • pauleee - May 24, 2012 at 9:55 AM

      Seriously, this. The little victories are all we have so far, but maybe they’re starting to turn it around. It certainly didn’t help that the ad campaign to be THE LA team was followed by tripping (and then faceplanting) out of the gate while the Blue Man Group got out quickly. The good news: with 3 sub-500 teams below them, the Rangers are slowly, slowly lowering themselves toward the pack.

  4. icanspeel - May 23, 2012 at 11:07 PM

    As a Padres fan I was sad to see him go. Always thought he was underrated and now he gets a chance to prove it.

  5. jarathen - May 24, 2012 at 8:00 AM

    He’s just filthy. He doesn’t seem all that wild, honestly; it’s almost like hitters will just wait and see if he missed the corner of the zone because they flail so terribly at his strikes.

    Frieri, Downs, and a more consistent Walden (who has been great since his last blown save on April 26th but is also sporting a ridiculously low BABIP over that tiny sample size) have really helped shore up a bullpen that was 1-7 before last night’s win. So now it’s 2-7. Yay!….?

  6. sj39 - May 24, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Now if they can just find that power hitting, 240 million dollar first baseman they have been looking for.

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