The state of the Angels’ pitching staff is beginning to resemble last season’s. Desperate for depth to handle the inevitable innings, Angels general manager Billy Eppler struck a deal with Atlanta to acquire right-hander David Hernandez and immediately inserted the veteran into the bullpen.
A year ago, Eppler made a similar trade with the same team when he acquired right-hander Jhoulys Chacin, who soon joined the Angels’ rotation.
The motivation for the moves is similar. The Angels need cover while their injured pitchers heal. Their top three relievers are on the disabled list. Garrett Richards, their top starter, is too. Their opening-day starter, Ricky Nolasco, is experiencing mechanical issues.
Hernandez, 31, was traded while attending a country-music concert Sunday night in Atlanta. Monday was an off day for the Braves’ triple-A affiliate in nearby Gwinnett, where Hernandez had spent the season’s first three weeks. He went home after the show, awoke before 3 a.m. Pacific time, steered to the stadium to collect his gear, and then to Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport for a cross-country flight.
He said being in a big-league clubhouse again provided him energy.
Hernandez has a 4.10 career earned-run average over 487 major league innings, mostly out of the bullpen. With Gwinnett, he logged a 1.12 ERA over eight innings.
“It’s definitely coming along,” he said. “I’m throwing strikes, and that’s what I struggled with last year. I added a slider and it’s come along rather quickly, so hopefully it translates here.”
“He still has a very lively fastball, a good breaking ball, and experience pitching in the back end of games,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “So we’ll see how he fits in.”
Some of the Angels’ injury troubles can be attributed to poor luck. Some might be best attributed to the Angels’ response to said luck.
Right-hander Cam Bedrosian said he first began to feel the groin strain that forced him to the 10-day disabled list when walking into the visiting dugout at Minute Maid Park after the Angels’ Tuesday victory.
Earlier that night, he had thrown two innings for the first time as a reliever, exerting himself beyond his norm. He said Monday he hopes to resume throwing in about one week.
To make room for Hernandez, the Angels optioned right-hander Daniel Wright back to triple-A Salt Lake. … Nolasco was once scheduled to start Monday against Toronto, but now will not pitch until Thursday against Oakland, receiving nine days of rest in between starts. Right-handers JC Ramirez and Matt Shoemaker will start Tuesday and Wednesday. … Luis Valbuena began his rehab assignment Monday at Class-A Inland Empire. He played first base, not the third base that Scioscia had said. The manager said the change was based on Valbuena’s input. “He’s going to play more first base up here, and he wants to get a little more work there,” Scioscia said.