Analysis

Fireman Ty Buttrey

Ian Kinsler was acquired by the Angels to fill the hole that so many Angels second baseman were unable to fill. Kinsler, a scrappy, well rounded veteran in the back end of his career, struggled finding consistency, and with the Angels suffering a multitude of injuries, the Angels fell from playoff contention. Due to these factors and David Fletcher’s emergence, the Angels shipped Kinsler to the Red Sox in exchange for Ty Buttrey and Williams Jerez. Jerez, who lost out on a bullpen spot, was flipped to the Giants prior to the 2019 season. While Jerez never got a prolonged look in the Angels bullpen, Ty Buttrey has, and has thrived in his high leverage roles.

Buttrey was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 MLB draft out of Providence High School in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Red Sox signed him well above slot value in order to pry him away from his original commitment to the University of Arkansas. The Red Sox had hopes of Buttrey becoming a frontline starter, but his numbers were concerning. In 2015, Buttrey’s last full season as starter, he started 21 games, while holding opponents to a 4.20 ERA. While these numbers are not terrible, the decision was made to permanently move Buttrey to the bullpen before the 2017 season. Buttrey pitched in 40 games in 2017, all in relief and posted a 2-5 record along 4.81 ERA in 66 innings pitched. But while the numbers were not ideal, Buttrey experienced an increase in velocity, even reaching 100 MPH for the first time in his career.While Buttrey had a high ERA, it was clear with an uptick of velocity, Buttrey could be a quality piece in a bullpen.

Buttrey fit the reliever mold that Angels general manager Billy Eppler has targeted. An electric fastball that can reach 100 MPH, and a devastating slider to go along with an above average changeup, all with the ability to miss bats. Buttrey’s fastball which checks in averaging 96.7 MPH, is his go to pitch, throwing it almost 60% of the time. His slider is his go to offspeed pitch, throwing it a little over 25%, and where most of his strikeouts come from. He has relied on those 2 pitches heavily, leaving him dominating the middle to late innings of games.  

Former manager Mike Scioscia would usually give his best reliever the typical closer role. Angels manager Brad Ausmus has not been shy about using Buttrey in the middle innings of games. Ausmus has been using Buttrey in the “fireman” role, deploying him in key situations throughout the game, wherever he feels it is of the utmost importance. Often times, he is seen warming up in the middle of an inning when a starter begins to lose effectiveness or has a high pitch count, and comes into clean up his mess. Other times he is called on at the start of the inning, but is assigned the demanding task of maneuvering through the heart of the opposing teams order. In each of these situations, Buttrey has thrived, having statistics comparable with the game’s best relievers, even as just a rookie.

Buttrey got his first taste of the MLB last year after the trade from Boston. He appeared in 16 games, recording 4 saves, but did not pitch enough to lose his rookie status due to a knee injury. In Buttrey’s first full season, he has become the Angels most dependable and trusted reliever. This season Buttrey has appeared in 30 games, entering from the bullpen as soon as the 5th inning, and jogging from the dugout for multiple inning saves in the 9th. He has effectively held opponents to a 1.89 ERA, giving him the best ERA on the Angels, and ranking him 20th in the majors among qualified relievers. Buttrey has been recording many outs via the strikeout, striking out just under 11 batters per 9 innings, while only issuing 2.32 walks per 9. Amongst fellow relievers, Buttrey ranks tied for 9th in MLB in fwar (1.2), and is ranked among the leagues best relievers in most other categories.

The trade for Ty Buttrey keeps looking better and better by each game. While the Red Sox won the World Series with Kinsler, the Angels got the kind of super reliever that all teams dream about having. He has become the fireman for the Halos, getting them out of tight situations, and keeping runs of the scoreboard. Buttrey has been an absolute steal from the Red Sox, and with him under club control through 2024, Angels fans can depend on him for the foreseeable future.

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