It’s a warm night in California and all seems to be well. There’s only a slight brisk of a wind passing through your hair and from there, you decide to go to the theatre to view a feature film. You pick what seems to be a great movie and two hours into it, it’s fantastic. But in the last 15 minutes, the lead actress turns into an avocado, the film's musical score is suddenly nothing but a loop of Wang Chung's "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" and your popcorn just transformed into a gallon of uncooked lentils. Everything was just fine but it didn't end that way. It may seem like it has no correlation to baseball but essentially, that was the main problem with the Angels in 2012, the end of their games, where the bullpen would constantly throw away the game.
Thankfully, with the additions of Sean Burnett and Ryan Madson (if his health holds up) and subtraction of Jordan Walden, LaTroy Hawkins and Jason Isringhausen, the biggest weakness of the club last season may actually be quite stable this season. One of the most important puzzle pieces to the bullpen keeping the ship afloat is the always reliable Scott Downs and his sinker. Downs came to the team in 2011, signing a three year contract and since then, he's had one excellent season in his first year in Anaheim and last year, things were a bit more shaky with an ERA of 3.15, his highest ERA since 2006 when he was a part of the Toronto Blue Jays. Compared to the rest of the late inning guys in 2012, Downs was someone the fans could actually be excited to see but with less stress hopefully coming to him in 2013, he could be in store for a pleasant year.
Just to show how last year was probably not what you can come to expect from the 36 year old, his WAR rating was 0.4, which is the lowest WAR he's had since all the way back in 2003, when he only pitched three innings and had an obviously inflated ERA of 15.00. When you look at all of the statistics around Downs, it's clear that 2012 might have been the worst season he's ever had and he will want to go out on the diamond to prove that he hasn't lost his skill, which I believe he hasn't. In an unexplainable way, Downs reminds me of the old Halos favorite, Scot Shields. He wasn't going to blow you away with his stuff but he will get you out and if Downs can do that in 2013, with how 2012 went, can you really ask for anything more than that?
As of press time, Downs is most likely going to be a 6th or 7th inning guy, depending on Ryan Madson's health and how Ernesti Frieri performs, so Downs will probably not go back to his short lived closer role. I believe that in the role of a set up man, that's where Downs can really sign. He'll certainly pitch a lot of innings but if there's any other bullpen pitcher besides Frieri who is as crucial as anyone to the team's hopeful success, it's the 36 year old. Look to see him perform at a high level in 2013 with his Sinker and Curveball at a baseball stadium, near you.