The Angels have had a left-handed specialist in their bullpen all season. Cam Bedrosian just happens to throw with his right hand.
An increased use of and improved command of his slider has helped Bedrosian emerge as a solid late-inning option against left-handed hitters, somewhat mitigating the need for a left-handed situational reliever.
“He’s kind of been the guy that we’ve felt can succeed against lefties when we didn’t have a left-handed arm in the bullpen, so we’ve used him quite a bit in that capacity,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “You’ll notice a lot of times if we’re in the seventh inning or [setup man Ty] Buttrey is not available in the eighth inning and the heart of the lineup has some left-handed hitters in it, Bedrosian’s the guy we go to.”
Entering Monday night, left-handed batters were hitting .160 (15 for 94) with a .485 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, one homer, 28 strikeouts and 12 walks against Bedrosian. Right-handed hitters were batting .228 (21 for 92) with a .692 OPS, four homers, 25 strikeouts and seven walks against him.
Those reverse splits are in stark contrast to his first five big league seasons, when right-handers hit .235 with nine homers against Bedrosian, and lefties hit .286 with nine homers.
The average velocity of Bedrosian’s fastball (92.9 mph) and slider (83.1 mph) hasn’t really changed, but his pitch mix has.
According to Fangraphs, Bedrosian has thrown his fastball 46.4% of the time this season, a big drop from his 55.3% fastball usage last season. He has thrown his slider 52.2% this season after throwing it 44.6% in 2018.
“I’m doing a decent job of mixing my pitches, hitting my spots with the fastball and throwing the breaking ball either back-door or to the back foot to left-handers,” said Bedrosian, who entered Monday with a 3-3 record and 3.10 ERA in 48 appearances. “The breaking ball is a good pitch to left-handers, so I’m throwing it a little more than the fastball.”
Bedrosian, who was unable to master a changeup earlier in his career, has also dabbled with a split-fingered fastball that looks more like a changeup, a pitch he has thrown only 12 times this season but three times in last Thursday’s game against the Orioles.
“It’s a pitch I’ve sprinkled in throughout the year, but the three I threw against Baltimore were pretty good,” Bedrosian said. “I’ve been working on it on the side. It’s good to have another pitch the hitters have to keep in the back of their mind.”
Bedrosian’s success against left-handers is one reason Ausmus used the right-hander as an opener seven times through June 11. It’s also the reason Ausmus no longer uses Bedrosian as an opener.
“At this point,” Ausmus said, “Bedrosian is more valuable at the back end.”
JC Ramirez returns
JC Ramirez, who underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2018, completed his second 30-day minor league rehabilitation stint with two-thirds of an inning for Class-A Inland Empire on Sunday, and the right-hander expects to be activated this week.
The addition of Ramirez, who made 24 starts in 2017, would give Ausmus another long-relief or opening option in a heavily taxed bullpen that includes three other pitchers who can throw multiple innings: Taylor Cole, Trevor Cahill and left-hander Adam McCreery, who was called up from triple-A on Monday.
“Those guys have been pitching a lot, and most of the guys go one inning,” Ramirez said. “I want to be part of the solution. I want to help the team.”
Jonathan Lucroy, who is recovering from a concussion and a broken nose, caught seven innings for Inland Empire on Saturday and is scheduled to catch nine innings for the Class-A club Tuesday night. He is expected to be activated either Wednesday or Friday. ... Reliever Keynan Middleton, whose rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery was interrupted by a nerve issue in his elbow, resumed throwing Monday but is not expected to return for several weeks. ... To make room for McCreery on the roster, the Angels optioned right-hander Luke Bard to Salt Lake.