Angels Notes: Blake Parker’s value goes beyond the 9th inning
BALTIMORE — Pitching on a team that hasn’t had a set closer all season, Blake Parker has been conspicuous by his absence in the ninth inning.
Parker’s 2.35 ERA and WHIP of 0.894 are both tops among the Angels relievers, and his 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings are just a tick below Bud Norris’ 11.2.
But Parker has just one save, and that was a one-batter rescue job in Boston in June. He has not once started the ninth in a save situation.
Manager Mike Scioscia’s explanation, essentially, is that the Angels are trying to maximize his value, rather than just waiting for the ninth.
“He’s pitched in high leverage situations every time he’s had the ball,” Scioscia said.
On Friday night, Parker worked the seventh in a game the Angels led 7-5. Scioscia pointed out that Parker faced the top two hitters in the Baltimore order, which was by design.
“If he does his job, you are hoping that lineup never comes around again,” Scioscia said.
Scioscia’s preference for Parker against the top of the order, which was due in the seventh, could explain how he arranged his top three relievers — Parker, Yusmeiro Petit and Cam Bedrosian — for the final four innings. If he wanted Parker to pitch the seventh, and Petit to pitch two innings, there was no other way to work the puzzle besides having Bedrosian in the sixth and Petit in the eighth and ninth.
The Angels ended up losing in the ninth, when Petit and Keynan Middleton gave up four runs.
As for Parker, a 32-year-old enjoying a career season, he said he’s prepared to go along with whatever Scioscia wants.
“I had experience with (closing) in Triple-A, and I enjoyed that role, but Triple-A is a whole other level,” Parker said. “Once you get to the big leagues, it’s a whole different monster. Every bullpen guy wants to be in there when the game is on the line. It’s something I’d love to do, but he’s the manager. If he wants to put me in, if he trusts me enough, then I’d love to go out there and do it. It’s his call.”
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Middleton has allowed four runs in his last seven outings, but Scioscia said he remains in the mix for holding leads late in games. Scioscia said he’s impressed with Middleton’s ability to put bad games behind him. “He’s got a special talent,” Scioscia said. “As he harnesses it, you’re going to see him fulfill the promise he has. Part of it is the mental outlook of a guy pitching the back end of games, holding leads. You need that special ability to turn the page on a bad game and he’s shown that.”
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