ANAHEIM -- Angels closer Ernesto Frieri is regressing toward the mean. That's not necessarily a bad thing, per se. It just means that Frieri is now, well, human, as he continued to remind everyone through the first half of the season.
"I never got too high or too low," Frieri said in Spanish. "I stayed the same the entire time. I kept saying, 'There are going to be times when I get hit, there are going to be times when it doesn't go my way.' That's been happening a little bit lately, but you see me the same. You never see me with my head down or anything like that. I keep working hard, trying to get better each day. I know what I can do."
In the first half, after being acquired from the Padres on May 3, Frieri tossed 26 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings, striking out 45 batters and going 11-for-11 in saves in the process. In the second half, though, Frieri has given up nine runs (eight earned) in 10 innings, putting his ERA for the season at a mortal 1.98 mark.
Frieri has closer potential because of his electric fastball and deceptive delivery. But he's prone to giving up runs because of his walk rate, which is at 4.9 throughout his four-year career.
The 27-year-old right-hander has talked about mixing it up by throwing his slider more occasionally to keep hitters off balance, but he'll mostly stick to his strengths. The key is better location, and keeping that leadoff hitter off the basepaths.
"When I don't get that first hitter out, with a walk or hit by pitch or whatever, it just gives them more of a chance because three guys now have a shot of driving him in," Frieri said. "I think that's what hurts me more than anything."