When the Angels acquired reliever Ty Buttrey from the Red Sox for veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler on July 30, general manager Billy Eppler described the 25-year-old Buttrey as a righthander “who looks pretty darn close to major league ready.”
That may have been an understatement. Not only did the 6-foot-6, 235-pound Buttrey reach the big leagues on Aug. 16 after spending his seven-year Red Sox career in the minor leagues, he migrated from middle relief to a setup role to Angels closer in a span of three weeks.
“The guy is lights out,” fellow Angels reliever Blake Parker said. “He has an upper-90s fastball with two other wipeout pitches, and he’s getting some of the game’s best hitters out. It’s exciting to see what he’s going to be in the future, for sure.”
Buttrey had an 0.59 ERA and four saves through 14 big league appearances. He allowed one earned run and 10 hits in 15.1 innings, striking out 19 and walking four.
Buttrey mixes a fastball that averages 96 mph with a sharp slider that averages 82 and a changeup that averages 86. His combination of stuff and performance has quickly vaulted him into the team’s 2019 plans.
“Ty has shown that whatever situation he’s put in, he goes out there and makes pitches,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “That’s a great indicator that a guy can handle the back end of the bullpen and pitch in . . . high-leverage situations. His stuff is really good. He’s got a fastball that can get by guys, and he can get under their swings with changeups and breaking balls.”
The Red Sox recognized Buttrey’s potential in 2012, when they drafted him the fourth round out of Providence High in Charlotte and signed him to a well over-slot $1.3 million bonus.
But control problems hindered his development. Buttrey had a 4.07 ERA in his first four full seasons—three as a starter—at the Class A and Double-A levels, walking 3.9 per nine innings.
As he figured out his delivery and grew more comfortable in relief, Buttrey had a 4.81 ERA in 40 games at Double-A and Triple-A in 2017, striking out 74 and walking 33 in 63.2 innings.
Buttrey was dominant at Triple-A Pawtucket this season, with a 2.25 ERA, 64 strikeouts and 14 walks in 44 innings, but there was no room for him in a stacked Red Sox bullpen. Boston’s loss could be the Angels’ gain.
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