After Frieri's latest fall, it's bullpen by committee

After Frieri's latest fall, it's bullpen by committee

After Frieri's latest fall, it's bullpen by committee
ANAHEIM -- Angels closer Ernesto Frieri has essentially been a bullpen savior since arriving in early May. But he's caused heartbreaking losses in each of his last two appearances, prompting a return to a bullpen-by-committee approach for the Angels.

On Friday, one day after Frieri spoiled a Zack Greinke gem by struggling with the home-run ball in a second straight appearance, Angels manager Mike Scioscia announced that he'll "match up more to take a little pressure off a guy whose confidence is not quite where it should be."

Frieri's last two outings have almost been carbon copies.

Against the Royals on Saturday, Greinke pitched eight shutout innings, then left after giving up a one-out single in the ninth with a 2-0 lead. Three pitches later, Frieri had given up a two-run homer to Billy Butler and a solo shot to Salvador Perez for the walk-off loss.

Against the Rangers on Thursday, after Greinke pitched eight innings of one-run ball, Frieri gave up a leadoff single to Michael Young in the ninth, then hung a 2-1 slider to Adrian Beltre that resulted in a two-run homer and an eventual 3-1 defeat.

Now, on any given night, it can be crafty left Scott Downs, or hard-throwing righty Kevin Jepsen, or perhaps Frieri himself, pitching in save situations.

"I think his last couple outings have been just not as crisp, but the back end of the bullpen's fragile," Scioscia said. "[Frieri is] certainly going to get the ball in situations that are going to be important to us, whether he's throwing the last out in the ninth or the first out in the eighth, whatever it might be."

In 49 appearances with the Angels, Frieri has a 2.63 ERA and has gone 19-for-22 in saves.

He hurled 26 1/3 scoreless innings leading up to the All-Star break, striking out 45 batters and quickly establishing himself as the team's ninth-inning man. In the second half, though, the 27-year-old right-hander has given up 15 runs (14 earned) in 21 2/3 innings, including four in the last two games.

The biggest adjustment for Frieri, who hardly pitched in critical situations while buried in the Padres' bullpen the last few years, may be learning how to turn the page on blown saves.

"It's not easy to do that," he said in Spanish. "There aren't many ballplayers that are able to do that. I'm still learning that myself, to play one game at a time so that the bad things that happened before don't affect me today. But it's a process."