Can the Los Angeles Angels challenge the Houston Astros in 2018?

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Brian McCann
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Brian McCann /
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Houston Astros
HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 13: Chris Devenski /

Bullpen

While Houston’s relief unit was unimpressive in 2017, it has the tools to be much better next season. Luke Gregerson fled to another team. Francisco Liriano might do the same.

Yet, the bright spots in the weak relief staff stuck around. Ken Giles and Chris Devenski were electric, ranking in the top 30 in WHIP and strikeouts. Will Harris was also reliable, while Joe Musgrove excelled when thrown in the pen.

Astros relievers ranked 17th in ERA, but in the previous two seasons, they ranked in the top 10. Considering that Rondon and Smith will likely be better than Gregerson and Liriano, they could once again rank that high in the league.

And if manager A.J. Hinch decides to keep Peacock in the pen, he will have even more weapons in his arsenal. Not many teams in the AL West can compete with it.

However, the Angels will do their best to challenge them, despite having a very inconsistent corps.

Los Angeles hasn’t been known for an elite bullpen throughout the entire decade. It ranked 11th in ERA this past season and 10th in ERA in 2011 but ranked around 15th to 18th in other years.

Since Huston Street’s downfall, the team has had an issue finding a shutdown closer, though Bud Norris did his best in 2017. Cam Bedrosian and Blake Parker also filled in, but Parker was much better.

Parker, who posted a 2.54 ERA and a .83 WHIP, will likely log most of his innings in the ninth next season. Noe Ramirez is another useful guy that Los Angeles will utilize in 2018, as he pitched well once acquired.

Lastly, some current starting pitchers can fare well in the pen. Alex Meyer didn’t impress many people during his handful of starts, but he still possesses some bite in his fastball. He can mostly become what Musgrove was for the Astros last season.

Parker Bridwell or JC Ramirez, whichever is booted from the rotation, can also become useful in the middle or late innings.

Nevertheless, Houston’s relief corps is more talented and is consistent. While 2017 was a down year, relievers can be a top 10 crew once again.

Advantage: Houston Astros