The Angels announced they’ve selected the contracts of right-handers Jake Petricka and Elvis Peguero. Infielder Kean Wong has also been recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake. In corresponding moves, right-hander Dylan Bundy is headed to the 10-day injured list with a right shoulder strain, while hurlers Reid Detmers and Austin Warren have been placed on the COVID-19 IL.
Petricka’s back in the majors for the first time since 2019. A productive set-up man early in his career with the White Sox, Petricka bounced around the league in journeyman fashion after falling on harder times starting in 2016. He pitched for the Blue Jays in 2018 and had a brief stint with the Brewers the following season. Petricka re-signed with the Jays last season and spent the year at their alternate training site, but he never got a big league call. After beginning the 2021 campaign in the independent Atlantic League, Petricka hooked on with the Angels in early June.
Assigned to Salt Lake after signing, Petricka performed well in a hitter-friendly setting to earn his way back to the majors. He’s worked 31 2/3 innings across 19 games as a multi-inning relief option, posting a 3.69 ERA. Petricka’s 23.4% strikeout rate in the minors is around average, but he’s induced ground-balls at a huge 53.8% clip and thrown plenty of strikes (7.3% walk percentage).
While Petricka’s soon to appear in his eighth big league season, this is Peguero’s first call. The 24-year-old was one of two players Los Angeles picked up from the Yankees for left-hander Andrew Heaney at the trade deadline. Peguero, who has worked exclusively in relief this season, has rather remarkably traversed four levels. He began the year with New York’s High-A affiliate, where he tossed 32 1/3 innings of 2.51 ERA ball to earn a promotion to Double-A. Peguero logged 17 2/3 frames at that level, then made a one-game cameo in Salt Lake before being bumped up to the big leagues. Between all three levels, he has a 2.79 ERA with a big 31.8% strikeout rate and a solid 8.5% walk rate.
Petricka and Peguero are coming up as COVID replacements. Under MLB’s 2021 health and safety protocols, they can be removed from the 40-man roster and returned to the minors without exposure to waivers whenever players come off the COVID IL. There’s no indication whether Detmers and/or Warren have tested positive at this point.
Bundy’s IL placement is the continuation of a disastrous season for the 28-year-old. He entered the season with high expectations after posting a 3.29 ERA in last year’s truncated campaign. His strikeout rate has dropped from a strong 27% to a below-average 21.2%, and his walk rate is up a couple percentage points. He’s also been killed by the home run ball, serving up 20 longballs in 90 2/3 innings en route to a 6.06 ERA.
The extent of Bundy’s underperformance briefly got him relegated to the bullpen, although he’d returned to the starting staff in late July. He was pulled from his start against the Orioles last night in the second inning with the injury that today landed him on the shelf. Bundy’s fastball was averaging just 87.6 MPH, per Brooks Baseball, his worst velocity of the season and the continuation of a worrying trend in that regard over the past few weeks. The Angels didn’t provide a timetable for Bundy’s return. With just over five weeks left in the season, though, it wouldn’t be a surprise if this ends his 2021 campaign.
The career-worst performance couldn’t have come at a worse time for Bundy, who will reach free agency for the first time this winter. Had he come anywhere close to replicating his 2020 production, he’d have been one of the most appealing arms on the market — especially given his youth. Instead, it seems as if he might have to settle for a one-year deal in hopes of rebuilding his value and targeting a return to form in advance of the 2022-23 offseason.