Angels optimistic about potential of relievers Ben Joyce, José Soriano – Press Enterprise
MINNEAPOLIS — The Angels got a glimpse this week at what could be the future back end of their bullpen.
Rookie relievers José Soriano and Ben Joyce worked in consecutive innings twice against the Tampa Bay Rays and didn’t allow a run.
“These guys, stuff wise, if you ask anyone around the league, these are back-end, high-leverage bullpen guys, with that kind of stuff,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said.
Soriano, 24, has a 3.60 ERA through his first 40 big-league innings, with 53 strikeouts and 23 walks. In his past seven games, he has not allowed an earned run, with eight strikeouts and one walk.
Joyce, 23, has a 2.25 ERA after just eight innings, with nine strikeouts and seven walks. Joyce has not allowed a hit or a run in four innings since he returned from three months out with ulnar neuritis.
Obviously, both pitchers still have improvements to make, starting with their control.
Nevin said Soriano also has to learn to work through game situations depending what stuff he has working that day.
“There are learning experiences,” Nevin said. “He needs to understand some days he might have a certain pitch and some days it’s not working, just like a starter would. You need to understand what you can do to get guys out.”
With Joyce, whose fastball averages 100.9 mph, the issue is the control of his slider.
“With his stuff, he doesn’t have to be pinpoint,” Nevin said. “You’d like it to be. If he gets down to that, with his stuff, he’s really tough on a hitter.”
Joyce said when he began facing hitters last month, he put extra emphasis on throwing his slider, “even in counts that I wouldn’t normally.” And he also spent extra time working on it when he was playing catch.
“I think that gave me the confidence to throw it when I got back here,” Joyce said.
Third baseman Anthony Rendon, who has been out since early July with a shin injury, is not going to play again this year, Nevin conceded Saturday.
It’s not a surprise, since Rendon has barely done any baseball activity in the nearly three months he’s been out.
Nevin said Rendon is continuing to make slow progress, to the point that he “should have a normal offseason.”
Catcher Matt Thaiss, who was out in August with a shoulder injury, is still not ready to go behind the plate in a game, Nevin said. Thaiss has been doing throwing drills for a couple weeks.
“He’s not 100% yet,” Nevin said. “To make unstaged throws, maybe it’s a bunt play he’s got to make or a ball gets away and you got to throw a ball on the run, I don’t think he’s quite ready for that. I’d be nervous having him do that.”
Chad Wallach got the start behind the plate Saturday, the first time in 11 games that Logan O’Hoppe was not the starting catcher.
Nevin said Thaiss is available to hit and catch in an emergency, but he wants to be cautious. Thaiss has been the designated hitter four times since coming back, but hasn’t played at all since Sept. 13.
“I just wouldn’t feel good about him going out and hurting himself and chipping away at anything that could happen next spring or next season,” Nevin said.
The Angels have some incentive to bring players back from injuries as quickly as possible because they are trying to stay below the luxury tax threshold. When an injured player is replaced by a minimum salary player, the Angels have to pay both players’ major-league salaries, instead of just one.
Shortstop Zach Neto was not in the lineup Saturday. Neto has hit .122 with a .437 OPS since coming off the injured list. “He’s scuffled a little bit offensively and I just don’t want it to snowball on him,” Nevin said. …
Right-hander Chase Silseth (concussion) had no issues after his 60-pitch outing in a rehab game Friday, Nevin said. The Angels will discuss whether he will pitch in a major-league game in the season’s final week. …
The Angels activated right-hander Jaime Barría (hamstring) and optioned left-hander Jhonathan Diaz.
Angels (LHP Tyler Anderson, 6-6, 5.43) vs. Twins (RHP Joe Ryan, 10-10, 4.30), 11:10 a.m. Sunday, Target Field, Bally Sports West, 830 AM
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