Mike Scioscia used to go entire seasons without a left-handed reliever, so having two capable lefties in Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi is something of a luxury for the Angels manager.
"You don't have to save your one lefty for that perfect matchup," said Downs, who was activated off the disabled list Monday after sitting out a month because of a broken left big toe.
"If you need that big out [against a left-handed slugger] in the sixth inning, you can use a lefty there. And if you need it again in the seventh or eighth, it gives you that extra arm to help in between some of the right-handers."
Having two lefties could come in handy this weekend, with the Angels opening a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox on Friday in U.S. Cellular Field, one of baseball's best home run parks.
White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn returned Tuesday after sitting out six games because of an appendectomy, and he is one of baseball's most lethal left-handed hitters, averaging 40 homers a season since 2004.
It should also help against teams such as the Minnesota Twins, who have potent lefties in Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Jim Thome, and the New York Yankees, whose switch-hitters — Mark Teixeira, Jorge Posada and Nick Swisher — have more power from the left side.
"It's going to add a lot of depth," Scioscia said. "You're going to see Takahashi and Downs early in games at times. Maybe you'll see them pitching at the back end of games if some guys are down or some matchups come up. These guys have that versatility."
Neither Downs, a former Toronto reliever who signed a three-year, $15-million deal in December, nor Takahashi is considered a lefty specialist, that guy who is usually summoned to face one hitter.
Downs, 35, was a starter in his first four big league seasons, and since moving to the bullpen in 2006, he has averaged an inning per appearance. He went 5-5 with a 2.64 earned-run average in 67 games (611/3 innings) last season.
Angels feel lucky to have two lefty relievers
Los Angeles Times | Apr 15