Los Angeles Angels finally get smart bring Tropeano back.

Nick Tropeano will try to help the Angels rotation right its fast sinking ship. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Tropeano will try to help the Angels rotation right its fast sinking ship. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /

The Los Angeles Angels have a diamond in the rough in right-handed pitcher Nick Tropeano.  Earlier this season Tropeano looked like he was making great strides toward becoming the pitcher the Angels had hope for when they acquired him in the winter of 2014.

The Los Angeles Angels were in the midst of the freeway series versus So. Cal. rival Los Angeles Dodgers and Nick Tropeano pitched an absolute gem going seven innings allowing only one run and striking out four winning his second game of the season.  it was Tropeano’s longest outing of his career.

So what did Tropeano do for an encore, only go and shutdown the Texas Rangers the team with the best record in the AL holding them to only four hits and no runs over 6.2 innings and he struck out six to get his third win of the season.

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Just when things started to come together, Tropeano like so many Angels this season was hit with the injury bug as his next start things didn’t feel right and he was forced to the disabled list on June 4th with right shoulder tightness.  However, when he was ready to come back to the Angels they were not ready for him.

On June 24th Tropeano was activated from the disabled list, but was sent down to Triple-A Salt Lake City.  The question was why.  Tropeano had already done a rehab start in Single-A and appeared ready to come back to the Angels before being sent down.

The Angels have now finally gotten smart and promoted Tropeano to start today’s game against Tampa Bay and demoted Jhoulys Chacin to the bullpen.  To make room for Tropeano on the roster left-handed reliever Jose Alvarez was sent down to Triple-A Salt Lake (Thank God!).  Don’t get me wrong, I like Chacin and Alvarez as they both have potential to be very effective and have shown flashes of brilliance this season, but both are struggling mightily as of late so something had to be done.

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My only question is what took you so long Mike and company!!!! This is not a new issue, both Chacin and Alvarez have been struggling for almost a month now.  While Tropeano was not spectacular today in his return (5 innings 4 hits giving up 2 runs while striking out 4 batters), he was still much better than Chacin has been in any of his last 6 starts (Chacin has given four or more runs in five innings or less).

Just before Tropeano went down with his injury I spoke with Angels manager Mike Scioscia about Tropeano.

"“Nick has been pretty consistent all season.  The thing that we are excited about is that his pitch efficiency has continued to move in the right direction,” Scioscia said.“Whereas before 100 pitches were barely getting him through 5 innings, he is going from 15 outs, to 18 or 19 even 21 outs with the same effectiveness.  Obviously better pitch efficiency is an important step for a pitcher to take.”"

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At the beginning of the season Tropeano was on the outside looking in as far as the rotation went as the Angels appeared to be very deep with six starters and two more (Tyler Skaggs and C.J. Wilson) were both closing in on a return to the majors).  However, as many of you know a lot has happened since then. Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney both went down with elbow injuries that has cause Heaney to have Tommy John surgery putting him out until 2018, and Richards may not be far behind, although there has been some hope recently that he could avoid such a surgery.  Still even best case scenario doesn’t have Richards pitching until at least late August if at all this season.

Couple this with C.J.Wilson not being anywhere close to returning to the mound, and Tyler Skaggs is finally about ready to return to the big leagues after the All-Star Break, only 3 months behind schedule.  In stepped Nick Tropeano and he was a Godsend to the Angels rotation before he went down with his injury.  Tropeano was 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA, which is a full run lower to any of the Angels five starters who have been in the rotation.  The only pitcher who has been effective since Tropeano last pitched on May 29th has been Matt Shoemaker who had a 2.14 ERA in June.

So what has been the key to Tropeano’s transformation.

“Nick’s mechanics are together and he is commanding the ball much better,” Scioscia said. “He has been aggressive in the zone with all his pitches and when you put it altogether you’ve seen a guy who pitching some very good games.”

At the beginning of the season when Tropeano didn’t make the opening day roster, he said he didn’t get down, but prepared for his chance to prove himself when called upon.

“Obviously you want to make the team out of Spring Training, but going into the season with eight guys you know you’re going to need more than five guys to make it through the season,” said Tropeano of not making the opening day roster. “But unfortunately a couple of our guys got hurt early and so I just came in and tried to contribute right away.”

With all the high praise from his manager, what does Tropeano think has been the difference this season.

“I think the difference has been that I’m being more aggressive I have been able to throw all my pitches for strikes early in the count and then put them away late,” Tropeano said. “Getting those wins against the Dodgers and Rangers were big wins for the team and I was glad to be able pitch well enough to get them.”

However, what has most impressed me about Tropeano is his attitude and demeanor.  As much as it was apparent that Tropeano was happy to be in the rotation, he also was very humble and knew that his status could change at any time and he was prepared for whatever came his way.

“I’m just going to attack every day like I always do and keep working hard,” Tropeano said. “I can’t worry about things I can’t control, I just got to keep pitching well no matter what happens.”

Tropeano has not only impressed Scioscia with his resurgence this season, but also he has gained the confidence of his veteran teammates Hector Santiago and Mike Trout.

“Nick’s a great guy, he comes out and battles each and every day he goes out there,” said Trout in an interview I did with him early last month. “Nick wants to win, that’s what I like about him.  He’s not afraid to pound the strike zone and he throws pretty hard. It’s fun to be out there behind him when he pitches.”

Santiago echoed Trout’s thoughts about Tropeano.

“Nick has done really well so far, he has had only one bad outing since coming up. His pitch count has come into play a few times, but all-around he has done a great job for us this year,” Santiago said. “We sit down in the dugout and talk every day about what pitches are more effective for him to throw. So we are always going back and forth with each other trying to help each other out.”

Next: Tropeano back and Soto close to returning

Hopefully now that Tropeano is finally back up in the majors he will help to provide some more stability to a rotation that has been a mess since he left it. A big thank you to Mike Scioscia and staff for finally getting Tropeano back where he belongs.  Now Tropeano can get back to work and maybe the Angels can gain some momentum.