Locker room bonfires and heat: In the newfound light of the Angels bullpen

Angels rescuers Aaron Loup, Ryan Tepera and Archie Bradley bring new meaning to the phrase “Light that baby up,” the ultimate victory call coined by former player Victor Rojas. An ode to the halo on the 230-foot-tall Big-A that glows when the Angels win.

After the home win, the three pitchers — and any other players willing to join them — gathered around the Loop’s corner locker and lit a can of gel in a small round that Loop purchased in April. Stones and pebbles in a fire pit.

Angels rescuers Aaron Loup (right) and Ryan Tepera set a small fire pit in the clubhouse after their most recent victory. The idea of ​​the fire pit was conceived to increase camaraderie between players.

(Mike DiGiovana/Los Angeles Times)

It wasn’t quite the Olympic flame — the flames only rose a few inches from the club’s carpet — but it was burning brightly this season, with the American League West-leading Angels winning a 21-12 victory on Friday night in Oakland. The record was 12-7 at home.

“I can’t attribute it to it; it was Archie’s idea,” said Lupp, who signed a two-year, $17 million contract last November. “We have a little fake fireplace to start the season. Then, I think, we can definitely get a real fire, at least some heat, because it gets cold here sometimes.”

Three newcomers, two of whom have been integral to the team’s fiery start, have started fireside chats to help build camaraderie in the clubhouse, especially among relief workers whose jobs are of a precarious nature.

They’ll hang out after the game, share a cold drink, talk about what’s right and what’s wrong, how they attack certain batsmen, what they might do differently next time.

“It’s a cool thing to celebrate, you know?” said Tepera, who signed a two-year, $14 million contract in March. “We all like to sit by the fire, have a few glasses of wine, make memories, talk about anything and enjoy company.

“Over the last few years, with COVID and other things, we kind of miss team morale, getting together. I think everyone is looking forward to coming in every day and hanging out with each other, which is a big part of a winning team. part.”

The postgame party isn’t limited to just wins. Even after a fiasco, the trio can often be found near the Loop’s locker, sipping beer and showing sympathy — just without the light of a small campfire.

“We have a nice group of guys with nice arms and different looks coming out of the pen, which is always nice because you can mix them up with certain hitters.”

— Ryan Tepera

“The most important thing about this game is to have some consistency — whether you win or lose, you try to be consistent,” Lupp said. “You play 162 games and you lose at least 60 games, that’s a lot of games and some losses hurt more than others.

“But you have to learn to treat every day the same way. Or at least I try to do that. My thinking has always been, ‘Okay, you played a bad game, you lost, give yourself 10 to 15 Minutes to piss off in your locker, do what you have to do, then turn the page and move on to tomorrow.’”

Last winter, the Angels spent $93 million ($58 million to keep the closer Raisel Iglesias for four years) to support an unreliable bullpen that ranks 24th in baseball with a 4.59 ERA and 4.59 in WHIP 25th in (walks plus hits per inning pitched) and converted 39 of 65 saves last season.

On May 6, Angels relief pitcher Raisel Iglesias played against the Washington Nationals.

(Ashley Landis/The Associated Press)

Their current bullpen ERA of 3.49 was 15th on Thursday, in the middle of the pack but much better than last season. The reliever ranks second in WHIP (1.05) and walks (34) and eighth in batting average (0.211). They converted 9 of their 12 saves.

Iglesias has been dominant, going 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA and 7 saves in 13 innings, hitting 15, walking 3 and 6 in 11 2/3 innings hits. Southpaw Lupp is 0-2 with a 1.93 ERA in 14 innings, hitting 15, walking 2 and giving up 6 hits in 14 innings.

Tepera, a right-hander, is 1-0 with a 2.35 ERA in 14 games, hitting 12, walking 6 and hitting 6 hits in 15 1/3 innings. Bradley, who signed a one-year, $3.75 million contract in March, was on the injured list, but right-handers Oliver Ortega and Jimmy Hedgett helped cement the middle game.

“The bullpen was used a lot more in today’s game, and I always said you have to be able to use everyone,” Lupp said. “If you don’t have the confidence to throw your lowest guy on the totem pole in a big situation, then we’re not going to do any good.”

“Putting players in different situations is always about trust. The more people you trust, the better your chances of staying strong throughout the year.”

— Angels manager Joe Maddon on what makes a good bullpen

Ortega, the 25-year-old right-hander with a 95-mph fastball and 82-mph curve, went 1-1 with a 1.62 ERA in his first 11 games, creating Played a higher leverage multi-inning role, hitting 12 and 6 walks in 16 2/3 innings.

Manager Joe Madden sees Ortega as a “very good bridge” between the starting and back-end trio of Iglesias, Lupp and Tepera, like “George Washington, Verrazano” -Naros, Tappanze,” he said.

Herget, a bespectacled, skinny, right-handed pitcher with a sleek shot and adjustable arm slots, joins Ortega at the bridge club, using his 90.5 mph sinker, 81 mph The hourly slider and 75-mph curve went 1-0 with his 3.86 ERA in his first 13 games, striking out 18 times and walking one inning in 16 1/3 innings.

Angels catcher Max Stassi, center, celebrates with relief pitcher Ryan Tepera after the win.

Angels receiver Max Stassi (center) celebrates with relief pitcher Ryan Tepera after their win over the Chicago White Sox on May 1.

(Nam Y. Huh/The Associated Press)

Herget, who signed with the Angels last August, has given up 4 hits and 4 hits in 1/3 innings since his 13-6 loss to Houston on April 8. 1.69 ERA in 12 games.

On Wednesday, he duped Francisco Megan so badly with a sweeping arc that the pitch nearly hit the Tampa Bay receiver in the groin when he crossed it on a 3-pointer.

“We have a good group of guys with great arms and a different look coming out of the pen, which is always nice because you can mix them with certain hitters,” Tepe said. La said. “We had Jimmy throw it up and dance the ball a little bit. Ortega was really good.

“It’s an old-school mentality, but I’m a firm believer that you have to make everybody a winning team, keep your players fit, keep your players alive in September when it really matters, when you’re going to come in. in the playoffs.”

Longman Jaime Barria (1.98 ERA in 13 2/3 innings) pitched well in five games. Former playmaker Mike Meyers (5.06 ERA in 11 games) is still struggling to find his footing. Austin Warren (broken nose), Bradley (abdominal strain) and southpaw Jose Quijada (oblique strain) should add depth when they return from injury.

“It’s very important to the team,” Madden said of the role his middle reliever played. “The good teams I’ve had, the playoff teams, have guys like that who can stay a little ahead or a little behind and give you a chance to stay in the game and do what you need to do.

“You don’t know your bullpen until a month into the season. It takes a month to really watch them and figure out what they can do. Then, the trust factor builds. Putting people in different situations is always about trust. Getting you The more people you trust, the better your chances of staying strong throughout the year.”

The better the Angels Rescue pitches, the hotter the looper’s locker will be.


Leave a Reply