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Fan breakdown: How will Downs’ injury affect Angels bullpen?
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim's possible setup man for the 2011 season is now headed to the disabled list. Scott Downs(notes), former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher, stubbed his toe while playing with his kids March 13, and has now found out the toe is broken.
As an Angels fan since childhood, I am always prepared for this type of news in spring training, but the Angels have been almost bulletproof this season.
This may be a blessing in disguise for the Los Angeles Angels and Mike Scioscia. This will allow the Angels coaching staff to get a good look at two possible closer prospects while Downs heals. Hisanori Takahasi was expected to be a middle reliever this season but Downs' injury may thrust him into a part time set setup role.
Takahasi's strikeout to walk ratio approached 3-1 last season and he is cool under pressure. Before Downs' injury, Hisanori Takahasi was being touted as a possible stop gap measure if Scott Kazmir(notes) struggled early in the season. Takahasi will show his worth early now that Downs is on the DL.
Another pitcher that could benefit from the Downs injury will be the young fire-baller, Jordan Walden(notes). Walden has an explosive fastball and although he only appeared in 16 games last season, the Angels management team is excited to see what he can do under the rigors of an entire season.
Walden will fall into a setup role while Downs is out and if he can show progress before Downs returns, he will make the team. Scioscia is going with a deep 12 -man pitching staff to start the season and now with Downs going down it will allow him to evaluate the pitchers he is on the fence about.
The Angels have not been confident Fernando Rodney(notes) is their No. 1 closer after he faltered down the stretch last season. Jordan Walden is the closer in waiting and now he has a chance to speed up his ascension to the closer spot in the Angels bullpen.
Francisco Rodriguez may be headed down to the minor leagues despite the developments with Downs' injury. As is common this time of year, managers are forced to make roster decisions based a players minor league options.
Jason Bulger(notes) and Rich Thompson(notes) are out of minor league options and they are expected to make the Angels roster initially. If either pitcher falters early, Rodriguez will be the first pitcher back.
Also expect Downs to take a rehab assignment after missing four to six weeks.
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