As we prepare for the season ahead, the Pitcher List staff will be creating profiles for every fantasy-relevant player for 2021. Players will be broken up by team and role through starting pitchers, bullpen, lineup, and prospects. You can access every article as it comes out in our Player Profiles 2021 hub here.
At A Glance
Falling just short of the playoffs once again in 2019, the Angels entered 2020 with high expectations. They signed Anthony Rendon to a megadeal and dealt for Dylan Bundy, and of course had another season of prime Mike Trout. Unfortunately, the Angels … fell just short of the playoffs once again. Bundy had a breakout season and the rest of the offense did their part, but the bullpen accumulated a league-leading 14 blown saves and racked up a 4.63 ERA, which significantly contributed to keeping the Angels just shy of the final playoff spot in the American League.
By Adam Sloate
|vs LHP||Name||Position||vs RHP||Name||Position|
|1||David Fletcher||2B||1||David Fletcher||2B|
|2||Mike Trout||CF||2||Jared Walsh||1B|
|3||Anthony Rendon||3B||3||Mike Trout||CF|
|4||Justin Upton||LF||4||Anthony Rendon||3B|
|5||Albert Pujols||DH||5||Justin Upton||LF|
|6||Jared Walsh||1B||6||Shohei Ohtani||DH|
|7||Taylor Ward||RF||7||Jose Iglesias||SS|
|8||Max Stassi||C||8||Dexter Fowler||RF|
|9||Jose Iglesias||SS||9||Kurt Suzuki||C|
David Fletcher (2B/3B/SS)
2020: 31 R, 3 HR, 18 RBI, 2 SB, .319/.376/.425 | 2B #11
2021 ADP: 229.35 (2B #23)
The one and only #AngelsTwitter favorite leads off for this potent lineup. Fletcher’s 2020 was one to remember, with Fletcher raising his batting average, OBP, and SLG by at least 20 points over 2019, although some of it was buoyed by a .348 BABIP. At the same time, he made less hard contact (10% decrease, places him fourth-worst among all qualified MLB hitters) than in seasons prior; the decrease in hard contact, along with the increase in GB%, high BABIP, and change in launch angle could lead to negative regression in 2021. A deeper dive into plate discipline data shows that Fletcher was even more selective with his swings, offering at just 47.6% of pitches in the zone. He maintained a Swing % below 40%, a Whiff % below 10%, and a SwStr % of exactly 3%, all of which are convenient for fantasy owners in leagues that penalize strikeouts. You can read more on Fletcher’s plate discipline in this article from PL staffer Manuel Gomez here. Fletcher will be a tough out at the plate and someone who can set the table for the sluggers that come after him in the Angels’ lineup. If you’re looking for someone to boost both batting average (xBA in 90th percentile), OBP (20th among all qualifying hitters), and maybe even runs (he bats in front of THE Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon), you could do a whole lot worse than Fletcher in roto leagues, especially considering his ADP and rank among 2Bs. There is little worry about playing time with Fletcher, as he played in 49 of the team’s 60 games in 2020 and Joe Maddon has repeatedly expressed admiration for Fletcher’s skillset. The multi-positional eligibility doesn’t hurt, either.
Jared Walsh (1B)
2020: 19 R, 9 HR, 26 RBI, 0 SB, .293/.324/.646 | 1B #31
2021 ADP: 207.54 (1B #23)
“Walshy” was the breakout star for the Angels this year, as the 27-year-old finally put it all together and blasted 9 bombs in 99 ABs. As the season progressed, Maddon had Walsh batting in the #2 spot, behind Fletcher and in front of Mike Trout. Walsh’s breakout was due to a couple different factors, brilliantly outlined by fellow PL staffer Cole Bailey here. The short version is that Walsh simplified his swing, reduced his strikeouts, and made both consistent and quality contact. All of this led to an absurd .646 SLG (small sample size warning!) and a sweet, sweet barrel rate of 12.6%. He’s going to see some regression from that SLG of .646, but even his xSLG last year placed him 35th among MLB hitters with at least 50 PA. If Walsh continues to bat in the #2 spot, he’ll get to reap the rewards of hitting right in front of You-Know-Who, which should help boost the number of hittable pitches he sees. The only concern with Walsh is how much playing time he’ll get with Albert Pujols still soaking up at-bats against left-handed pitching, but I would expect Walsh to still see plenty of chances to prove that his 2020 was no fluke with little-to-no competition for ABs against right-handed pitching.
Anthony Rendon (3B)
2020: 29 R, 9 HR, 31 RBI, 0 SB, .286/.418/.497 | 3B #10
2021 ADP: 40.5 (3B #6)
“Tony Two-Bags” had another solid year for the Angels, posting the highest OBP of his career and an xwOBA in the top 20 qualified hitters in baseball. Rendon batted in the 3rd or cleanup spot nearly the entire year, reaping the benefits of hitting behind Michael Nelson Trout. Rendon’s presence in the lineup apparently helped Trout see more strikes as well. Rendon swung a little less than his career percentages, dropping his Swing% and Chase% down close to his career-lows, but it did not really correspond to a meaningful drop in SwStr%, as Rendon still swung and missed at his career averages. His SwStr% still placed him 5th-lowest among all qualified hitters. At the same time, his Barrel% dropped considerably from his 2018 and 2019 seasons (down from approximately 12% to 6.3% in 2020), as did his Hard%. Nearly everything else across his Statcast profile stayed the same, with his launch angle and exit velocity remaining nearly identical to his 2019 season, so his Barrel% appears due for some positive regression. Regardless of the change in his batted ball profile (which is more variable than usual due to the small sample size), Rendon remains an elite hitter with supreme plate discipline. A full season in this powerful Angels lineup should help Rendon produce strong numbers that will make him worthy of his ADP.
Albert Pujols (1B)
2020: 15 R, 6 HR, 25 RBI, 0 SB, .224/.270/.395 | 1B #46
2021 ADP: Undrafted (1B #61)
“The Machine” has fallen quite far from his best days. His very name used to strike fear into opposing pitchers’ hearts and minds! Brad Lidge cowered in fear! Unfortunately, his name does not have the same effect it once did. In fact, Albert’s dreadful 2020 season finally dropped his career batting average below .300. Although I still find it amazing that a 40 year-old man with 10,839 ABs is still hitting .299/.377/.546 for his career.
Current-day Pujols has one year remaining on the massive contract he signed back in December 2011. As the years have slowly started to tick off of the contract, the Angels have tempered his playing time significantly. Albert saw action in just 39 games last season, with a fairly even split of ABs against left-handers and right-handers. Even with the platoon advantage, Albert hit just .231 against left-handed pitching and tacked on a handful of dingers, allowing him to pass Willie Mays for fifth on the all-time HR list.
Jose Iglesias (SS)
2020: 16 R, 3 HR, 24 RBI, 0 SB, .373/.400/.556 | SS #25
2021 ADP: 389.82 (SS #34)
“Candelita” had himself quite a 2020 season. This was just his second season with a wRC+ of over 100 (he posted an unreal 160 wRC+) across 39 games and 150 PAs. As you might have guessed (also, small sample size caveat), with Iglesias having never posted a batting average above .303 in his 6 previous season, he is due for a little bit of negative regression. Additionally, Iglesias’ 2020 BABIP was a sky-high .407 and his xwOBA was 30 points lower than his actual wOBA, so do not expect a repeat season. Outside of the BABIP and xwOBA, Iglesias chased less, swung less overall, barreled up the ball a little more, and maintained his low strikeout rate, so there was still some real improvement in his batted ball and plate discipline profiles.
While Iglesias probably will not repeat his stellar 2020 season, he will be hitting in a much better lineup than the one he spent 2020 in. However, he will likely not hit towards the top of the lineup as he did at the end of the season in Baltimore, potentially hitting beneath the bevy of strong hitters in the Angels’ lineup. Iglesias will also be moving from a hitter’s park in Camden Yards to a pitcher’s park in Angel Stadium — although his game is not really predicated on power — which could affect his numbers a bit. As far as playing time goes, Iglesias is slated to be the Angels’ starting shortstop, but will face competition for playing time with Franklin Barreto, Luis Rengifo, and even potentially David Fletcher. If he can maintain a decent batting average (above .300), he could be a late-round contributor in a few categories.
Max Stassi (C)
2020: 12 R, 7 HR, 20 RBI, 0 SB, .278/.352/.533 | C #12
2021 ADP: 364.99 (C #28)
Stassi had himself a breakout 2020 by walking more, striking out less, and hitting the ball harder than he has ever hit it before. Stassi originally held a platoon role behind Jason Castro, but once Castro was traded, Stassi took over, posting legitimate improvements across each relevant fantasy category. While he ultimately did not see enough PAs to qualify, his xwOBA (.371) would have placed him 3rd among all catchers, while his xSLG would have placed him 2nd. Stassi showed legitimate Statcast metric improvement alongside his surface stats, raising his launch angle to about 5 degrees and altering his batted ball profile to hit a higher percentage of his balls as fly balls. Stassi also barreled up the ball at a higher rate than ever before.
If Stassi’s breakout is legitimate, he could be worth a look, although his potential is tempered somewhat by the presence of fellow battery mate Anthony Bemboom. Both saw significant time behind the plate in 2020 and I would imagine that both will continue to see action fairly often, depending on the handedness of the opposing pitcher. If Stassi regresses, he is probably not worth much of a look, as he may be better in real life than for fantasy. It is important to note that Stassi also had surgery to repair his hip during the offseason; he may be forced to miss the start of the season as he recovers from his second hip surgery in as many years.
Mike Trout (OF)
2020: 41 R, 17 HR, 46 RBI, 1 SB, .281/.390/.603 | OF #4
2021 ADP: 5.91 (OF #4)
Look, I know his Players’ Weekend nickname has always been “Kiiiiid,” but I think this one suits him better. King Fish 2.0 will turn 30, as well as reach his tenth year of service time in the big leagues, over the course of this season. He will, barring an injury, probably coast to another top-5 MVP finish in the American League and have another Mike Trout-style year. Some things to note: Trout’s BB% in 2020 was his lowest since 2015, while his K% spiked to its highest since (also) 2015. His batting average dipped below .290 for the first time since 2014, while his OBP dipped below .400 for the first time since that same year. Of course, he was also an MVP winner and front-runner in each of 2014 and 2015.
But there’s (probably) no reason to panic. For one thing, Trout had to leave in the middle of the season for the birth of his child. Also, the season was pretty short. Thirdly, he is just a year removed from leading all of baseball in OBP, SLG, OPS, and OPS+ and is still in his prime, or at least at an age where most players do not experience a significant decline in performance. Fourthly, he’s Mike Trout. And, if you still need another reason to be convinced that Trout is the elite of the elite, he gets a full offseason and (hopefully) close to a full season with a lineup that boasts above-average hitters in front of him and behind him. This is the deepest the Angels lineup has been in ages. That means Trout is going to get plenty of opportunities to rack up stats in every relevant statistical category, with pitchers no longer able to throw junk pitches or just pitch around him. Draft him in the first round with confidence and enjoy the fruits of your “labor.”
Justin Upton (OF)
2020: 20 R, 9 HR, 22 RBI, 0 SB, .204/.289/.422 | OF #84
2021 ADP: 388.76 (OF #96)
If it were possible to have a mulligan apply to a season and a half … I would imagine “J-Up” would be first in line. He had a difficult 2019 and an equally difficult start to 2020. In the first half of the season, Upton slashed an awful .094/.169/.188, striking out on 36.6% of his plate appearances. Needless to say, he was in quite the “Upton Funk.” Eventually, J-Up turned it around like he was making a New Year’s resolution, cutting a lot of the bad stuff out of his swing diet and focusing on the good stuff. Upton’s second half was excellent, as he slashed .289/.379/.602 and struck out on just 17.9% of his plate appearances across September and October. He made a whole lot more hard contact and took the ball to the opposite field much more frequently than in the first half of the season.
So, what kind of season can we expect from Upton in 2021? He will turn 34 in August, an age at which many hitters experience a decline in their performance. Upton will still have a fairly secure spot in the lineup, as he is still owed approximately $51 million between 2021 and 2022. It is also fairly unlikely that GM Perry Minasian will try to package him with a top prospect to dump Upton’s hefty salary, but if the Angels are desperate to add a quality starter and have little room under the luxury tax, clearing Upton’s contract could do the trick. There is not much competition coming from the minor leagues, unless the Angels consider both Brandon Marsh and Jo Adell major-league ready and worthy of many at-bats. He will also likely hit in a fairly high spot in the lineup, as the majority of his 2020 at-bats came in the fourth, fifth, or sixth spot in the order. At his current ADP, Upton could be worth a look, especially if he is able to maintain numbers close to his second half splits.
Dexter Fowler (OF)
2020: 15 R, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 1 SB, .233/.317/.389 | OF #110
2021 ADP: 600.5 (OF #161)
Acquired in early February, Fowler was acquired to be a stop-gap until Jo Adell is ready to return to the Show or until Brandon Marsh shows he is ready to compete at the big league level. Until then, Fowler will take over in right field – and occasionally in the other outfield spots in a pinch – and will hit towards the bottom of the lineup. Fowler seems to be destined for a platoon role, slashing .260/.349/.452 against RHP and accumulating a dreadful .118/.167/.118 against LHP. He is probably not fantasy-relevant, but could be DFS-relevant on the right day and in the right matchup.
Taylor Ward (OF/3B)
2020: 16 R, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 2 SB, .277/.333/.383 | OF #130
2021 ADP: 639.5 (OF #171)
Ward is in line to take the fourth outfielder spot, thanks to a decent 2020 showing. After a few dreadful attempts at the big league level in 2018 and 2019, Ward finally took advantage of the playing time he was awarded and produced numbers worthy of another look as a hitter off the bench, who could serve as the weak side of the right field platoon with Fowler. Ward hit a little worse overall against LHP (.256/.275/.359) than he did against RHP (.291/.377/.400), but his slash line against LHP is still dramatically better than Fowler’s.
Watch List Considerations
Luis Rengifo and Franklin Barreto are on the outside looking in for a spot in the starting lineup, but if either one of Fletcher or Iglesias get injured, Rengifo and Barreto will be given the first crack at filling those shoes. After Jo Adell’s abysmal 2020 performance, the team seems committed to keeping him at the AAA level for the time being, but if he starts to tear it up at that level, then he could force his way into some playing time. The Angels also seem to be very excited about Brandon Marsh’s future and apparently loved what he did at the alternate site. He is ranked among most Top 100 prospect lists across the industry and could be asked to fill in or could be brought up for an audition at some point. He’s another outfield prospect, so it might take several injuries or a very strong Spring Training to get him playing time at the major league level. Kurt Suzuki and Anthony Bemboom are the depth options behind Max Stassi and will be asked to fill in if Stassi is forced to miss time due to his hip surgery, but neither will be fantasy relevant, barring a breakout year.
By Alex Roche
Dylan Bundy Locked In
2020: 6-3 W-L, 65.2 IP, 72 K, 3.29 ERA, 1.04 WHIP | SP # 17
2021 ADP: 100.0 (P#36)
Repertoire: 34% Fastball, 25% Slider, 21% Changeup, 12% Curve, 8% Sinker
We all know about Dylan Bundy’s much anticipated 2020 campaign. If the 2020 season had ended in early September, I’d be writing about the Dylan Bundy ace breakout that everyone’s been waiting for. Many were predicting that the former 4th overall draft pick just needed a change of scenery and minor tweaks to ascend into an elite starter. Removing his last two starts, Bundy posted a gaudy 2.48 ERA with 67 strikeouts in 58 innings. Following a pair of bad outings against the relatively weak offenses of the Diamondbacks and Rangers, Bundy finished the season with a 3.29 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 27% K rate. Despite the bumpy finish, that final stat line is impressive, but it begs the question, who is the real Dylan Bundy? Bundy had a career 4.67 ERA and 4.75 FIP prior to joining the Angels last year. His fastball velocity fell to 91.1 MPH in 2019 from 94.4 MPH during his rookie season in 2016. Bundy’s velocity continued to drop to 90.0 MPH last year, yet there was a major improvement. He threw it less. A 33.6% fastball usage rate in 2020 was the lowest of Bundy’s career, down from 42.4% in 2019. Hitters’ SLG against the fastball fell from .645 in 2019 to .446 in 2020, despite the continued challenged velocity.
|FB Effectiveness||BA||SLG||Whiff %||Hard Hit %|
The fastball became less predictable and more effective. While it is only an 11 start sample size, I think this trend will carry into 2021, why would the Angels change something that is working? Bundy’s Statcast profile jumps off of the page but a 3.75 xFIP and 3.80 SIERA are cautionary in projecting another sub 3.30 ERA. Bundy posted career bests with a 69.2 left on base percentage and just 0.69 homeruns per 9 innings which will both regress next season. Steamer projection system pins Bundy at a 4.52 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 22.5% strikeout rate for next year. I am more optimistic, expecting something around a 3.70 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 25% strikeout rate. Bundy posted career bests in every pitching category last year and I never like to chase players after a career year. That being said, the Angels signed Bundy with a simple plan to improve him as a pitcher by increasing his off-speed usage and decreasing reliance on the fastball. While Bundy may not pitch to a sub 3.00 ERA as he did most of 2020, he is a new pitcher and should be viewed in the top 30. Without those final two starts, we could be talking about a top 10 pitcher from 2020, the ceiling is high here and he’s worth a gamble around pick 100.
Andrew Heaney Locked In
2020: 4-3 W-L, 66.2 IP, 70 K, 4.46 ERA, 1.23 WHIP | SP #62
2021 ADP: 209.8 (P#74)
Repertoire: 58% Fastball, 25% Curve, 17% Changeup
Heaney has never evolved into the front-line starter he was drafted to be when he was selected with the ninth overall pick in 2012. An injury-riddled career lands Heaney entering his age 29 season with a career 4.44 ERA and only a single season with over 110 innings. Heaney remained healthy in the abbreviated 2020 campaign, logging 66 2/3 innings across 12 starts. A 4.46 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 9.5 K/9 doesn’t pop off the screen but it was a solid year. That is what you can expect in 2021. Heaney flashed double digit Ks in one out of 12 starts, but was consistent, logging at least six Ks in eight out of 12. A 3.79 FIP and 4.08 SIERA suggest some ERA upside. Heaney’s Statcast data is underwhelming ranking in the lower half of the league in most categories of record, other than an impressive walk rate of 6.8%. The largest area of concern headed into 2021 is health. You can pencil in at least a couple IL stints every season. I’d be looking for an ERA and WHIP in the 4.25 and 1.25 ranges, respectfully, with about a strikeout per inning. Heaney won’t be a league winner, but he’s a reliable pitcher in most matchups as long as he’s not injured. I like him around pick 210 as an above average pitcher in plus matchups, but he doesn’t possess the upside of younger pitchers in this range like Tony Gonsolin (ADP 206.4), Nate Pearson (254.1) or MacKenzie Gore (254.7).
Shohei Ohtani Locked In
2020: 0-1 W-L, 1.2, IP 3 K, 37.8 ERA, 6.60 WHIP | SP #273
2021 ADP: 235.5 (P#90)
Repertoire (2018): 46% Fastball, 25% Slider, 22% Split Finger, 7% Curve
Going into 2020, Ohtani was viewed by some as potentially the most valuable asset in fantasy baseball in daily roster leagues where he is both hitting and pitching eligible. 2020 was a disaster for Shohei Ohtani pitching only 1.2 innings and walking 50% of batters in his return from Tommy John surgery. Injury bit Ohtani once again and 2021 looks like his last chance to be a starter in the MLB. Ohtani is expected to be a part of a six-man rotation for the Angels this season. Control tends to be the hardest skill to recoup following TJ surgery as was the case here. There’s a scenario that exists similar to 2020 where Ohtani never pitches again after his first start of 2021 if he still can’t find the zone. There’s also a scenario where Ohtani returns to 2018-form and is a top 15 starting pitcher, making this analysis extremely difficult and uncertain. I cannot predict Ohtani’s health, but 2018 was stellar as you can see with his Statcast rankings. Across 51 2/3 innings, Ohtani struck out 63 and posted a 3.31 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 2018. This is nearly identical to his teammate, Dylan Bundy’s 2020 campaign. In 2020, Ohtani’s average fastball velocity fell to under 94 MPH from nearly 97 MPH in 2018. In fact, all four of Ohtani’s offerings lost 2 – 3 MPH as compared to 2018. The drop is surely injury driven but until we see Ohtani in spring training, we don’t know where his velocity is. My personal opinion is that two-way Ohtani is a buy at pick 235. While seemingly a less likely outcome, Ohtani still has the potential to be the most valuable player in fantasy if he returns to 2018 form and pitches every Sunday for the Angels. He has the potential to be Dylan Bundy (100 ADP) on the mound and Starling Marte (50 ADP) at the plate. There is immense risk, but I would no doubt take the gamble with the upside. I expect this ADP to creep up once reports begin increasing confidence in Ohtani’s two-way role. If you’re in a league where Ohtani is only a pitcher, he is worth a flier in the last few rounds but understand you may be cutting him in week two if the Angels decide he’s better as a pure hitter.
Griffin Canning Locked In
2020: 2-3 W-L, 56.1 IP, 56 K, 3.99 ERA, 1.37 WHIP | SP #118
2021 ADP: 313.3 (P#121)
Repertoire: 41% Fastball, 24% Curve, 20% Slider, 15% Changeup
An injury cloud shadowed over Canning coming into 2020 but a platelet-rich plasma injection into his right elbow aided a healthy 56 inning campaign. Avoiding Tommy John was a positive sign for Canning although the damage to his UCL remains a concern of mine headed into 2021. Pitchers such as Masahiro Tanaka have been successfully pitching with UCL damage but the Angels have a recently history of TJ surgeries with Andrew Heaney, Garrett Richards and Shohei Ohtani. While Canning will enter 2021 at full health, I don’t love the reports from March 2020 regarding “chronic changes” to the UCL in his pitching elbow. 56 innings in 2020 doesn’t convince me that Canning is a fully healthy starter. Canning’s curveball was his best pitch in 2020 and he increased his usage by 8%, up to 24%. The curve touted a 47% whiff rate and just .291 SLG against. His slider and fastball were both bashed in 2020, each dropping 1 mph in velocity and allowing a .553 and .483 SLG, respectively. A 4.33 FIP and 4.81 xFIP suggest Canning won’t duplicate a sub-4.0 ERA again. I see Canning with a 4.30 to 4.50 ERA and 8 K/9 type back-of-rotation starter without the shiny upside he flashed as a rookie in 2019. At just 24 years old, Canning has room for development, but a near 10% walk rate limits his upside.
Jamie Barria Likely
2020: 1-0 W-L, 32.1 IP, 27 K, 3.62 ERA, 1.11 WHIP | SP #117
2021 ADP: Undrafted
Repertoire: 46% Slider, 32% Fastball, 12% Sinker, 11% Changeup
A lack of homeruns contributed to Barria’s impressive 3.62 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 2020 in his age 24 season. Only a 7% HR/FB rate and 0.84 HR per 9 innings will certainly regress towards the 13.5% HR/FB rate and 1.62 HR/9 for his career. Steamer projection per Fangraphs forecasts a 4.95 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in 2021, as compared to the career 4.46 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. Just 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings doesn’t do anything to excite me. This being said, Barria is just 24 and finished in the top 94th percentile in barrel rate allowed and 91st percentile in xERA per Statcast in 2020. The sample size is less than 33 innings but Barria was successful in reducing hard hit rate (less than 35%). Barria started five games and came out of the bullpen twice in 2020, there’s a risk he is moved back into the bullpen at some point next season. If he can continue keeping the baseball in the yard, he could be worth it on your watch list, but right now Barria isn’t getting drafted in most formats and that’s the way it should be.
Watch List Considerations
Patrick Sandoval (Starter) – Roster Resource of Fangraphs has Sandoval as a member of the six-man rotation for 2021. At an ADP of 592, Sandoval isn’t being drafted following a 2020 highlighted by 36.2 innings of a 5.65 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 33 strikeouts. Sandoval split time with six starts and three bullpen appearances last year. A 47.4% hard-hit rate allowed and .490 xSLG were amongst the worst in the MLB last season. He figures to be part of the rotation, but will be a free agent in most leagues to start the year.
By Alex Roche
|Closer||Next In Line||Other Holds Options||Middle/Long Relief|
|Raisel Iglesias||Mike Mayers||Ty Buttrey||Felix Peña|
Raisel Iglesias (Closer)
2020: 8 SV, 2 HLD, 23.0 IP, 31 K, 2.74 ERA, 0.91 WHIP | RP #4
2021 ADP: 104.6 (P#38, RP#5)
The Angels added Iglesias in early December and it looks to be a lateral move for fantasy purposes. Iglesias will be the closer in Los Angeles, as he was for the Reds over the last four seasons. Iglesias has quietly been one of the most consistent closers in the MLB, posting 28 plus saves in 2017 through 2019 and finishing with 8 saves in the abbreviated 2020 season. After a shaky 2019 campaign with an ERA over 4.0, Iglesias returned to top-end closer form in 2020 with a 2.74 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 34% strikeout rate. A 1.84 FIP suggests there was room for even more success last season. The Reds put Iglesias in a lot of tough spots, going more than one inning in six of his 22 appearances. There were no major changes to Iglesias’ pitch mix in 2020 but he added 18.5% whiff rate on the sinker (up to 38.5%) and 11% whiff rate on the slider (up to 48.3%). These contributed to the 34.1% strikeout rate, in the top 7% of the league. Iglesias leaps off the page from a Statcast perspective in the top 10% in hard hit rate allowed, xwOBA, xERA, xSLG and whiff rate. Iglesias is guaranteed a closer role but is being drafted at his ceiling from last season. I tend to fade high-end relievers in drafts due to their volatility and drafting closers after career years tends to disappoint (think Blake Treinen and Edwin Diaz in 2019). Iglesias is one of the few relievers guaranteed saves on team destined to win at least half of its games. If you like drafting elite closers, he is a better buy at 105 than Liam Hendriks and Edwin Diaz are at pick 69 and 80, respectively.
Mike Mayers (Set Up)
2020: 2 SV, 5 HLD, 30.0 IP, 43 K, 2.10 ERA, 0.90 WHIP | RP #15
2021 ADP: 308.0 (P#116)
Mayers could have been one of the more interesting relief pitchers in the league headed into 2021. However, the breakout top 15 relief pitcher from last year won’t be the closer thanks to the Raisel Iglesias acquisition. Mayers dominated in 2020 with a 2.10 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 35.5% strikeout rate. Despite a 38% whiff rate, Mayers’ fastball continued to struggle and was smashed last year yielding a 42.9% hard hit rate. That being said, a .111 batting average against limited the damage. Mayers reduced fastball usage significantly last year, down to 33.6%, added a cutter and didn’t throw his changeup. The favorable change in pitch mix should sustain, but I wouldn’t expect another ERA of 2.10. Mayers is likely the next man up if Iglesias gets hurt but the durability of Raisel and mediocrity of the Angels limit the upside for Mayers. Keep him on your watch list if Iglesias gets injured, and he is worth being drafted in a league that values holds.
Ty Buttrey (Set Up)
2020: 5 SV, 2 HLD, 26.1 IP, 18 K, 5.81 ERA, 1.41 WHIP | RP #123
2021 ADP: Undrafted
The fourth-year reliever is brought up every year as an in-season saves streamer but has only accumulated 11 saves through 115 MLB appearances. The Angels traded for their full-time closer in Raisel Iglesias in December, and I expect Buttrey has been bumped down to third in line for saves and the second option for hold chances. Buttrey struggled mightily in 2020 with a 5.81 ERA and only 6.15 strikeouts per nine innings, compared to a career 4.30 ERA and 9.55 K/9. Buttrey saw deterioration across the board, as his left-on-base rate plummeted to 62% as compared to 73% in 2019 and HR/9 slipped to 1.37 from 1.00 in 2019. A 16% strikeout rate and 20% whiff rate were both ranked in the bottom 11th percentile among MLB pitchers. We are dealing with a small 26 inning sample size in 2020 yet velocity was down about 1 mph across all three offerings (fastball, slider, and changeup). Looking at the struggle last season and without any major changes in pitch mix or control, I am writing off 2020 as a fluke and expect Buttrey is closer to the 28% strikeout rate and 3.75 ERA guy he was in 2018 and 2019. That being said, expect improvement in 2021, but Buttrey lost his appeal as a potential save source and shouldn’t be rostered.
Felix Peña (Set Up)
2020: 2 SV, 4 HLD, 26.2 IP, 29 K, 4.05 ERA, 1.31 WHIP | P #146
2021 ADP: Undrafted
After two years with a handful of starts, Felix was moved full-time to the bullpen in 2020. He was given a few save opportunities but with Iglesias moving in as a bonified closer, I don’t expect any save chances this year. With just two successful saves versus three blown saves last season, he is not worth your attention in fantasy this year.
Watch List Considerations
Nothing noteworthy in the rest of the Angels’ bullpen. They have a solidified closer in Iglesias, and Mayers is a high-end second option.
ADP data taken from FantasyPros composite ADPs.
2019 Positional Rankings from Razzball’s 12-team Player Rater (ESPN).