The LA Angels have been on a roll lately and now sit in the second wildcard spot all by themselves. One reason is they are starting to get healthy. Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Bailey are back after long lay-offs. Andrew Heaney may be the next to return.
Andrew Heaney has worked hard in his rehab and has been determined to return to the LA Angels this season. Angels manager Mike Scioscia was asked earlier this season if there was any chance of Heaney pitching for the Angels this season. His response was “I just don’t see it happening.”
Well Heaney has done so well during his rehab he is back three months ahead of schedule. Now Heaney is knocking on the door to coming back to the Angels this week and there is a spot for him due to injuries to Matt Shoemaker and Alex Meyer. Tyler Skaggs filled Shoemaker’s spot two weeks ago. Now Heaney is ready to fill the spot that Alex Meyer vacated when he went on the disabled list two and a half weeks ago.
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Meyer’s spot comes up Friday, but as usual Scioscia is being very coy about who Friday’s starter will be, but all signs point to Heaney. Heaney has pitched 27.2 innings over six minor league starts and has fared quite well. Heaney has a 2.60 ERA with five walks and has struck out 29 batters during his rehab.
If Heaney can return to form in the majors it will be a big boost to the Angels pitching staff for the stretch run. Heaney was slated to be the number two starter in 2016, but went out after the second game of the season. The rotation has been ever-changing throughout the season due mostly to injuries.
Only one pitcher who began the year in the starting rotation is still there at this point. Only Ricky Nolasco who was the opening day starter is still in the Angels starting rotation. Nolasco has had an up and down year and has also been the victim of poor run support leading to a 5-12 record. However, he has provided some stability in an otherwise turbulent year for the Angels starting five.
However, the staff has survived and even flourished in the last month since the all-star break. Parker Bridwell has been outstanding since he joined the rotation in late June going 6-1 during that span and he is 7-1 overall (Bridwell had one spot start in late May before joining the rotation for good). His ERA is a sparkling 2.88 and the Angels are 12-1 in games he has started this season.
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J.C. Ramirez has evolved into one of the most effective starters this season posting a 10-10 record with a 4.26 ERA. Ramirez has gone at least five innings in 19 of his 23 starts and has 10 quality starts (six or more innings allowing three earned runs or less). With this being Ramirez’s first season as a starter in the majors he has done remarkably well.
Tyler Skaggs rounds out the Angels starters at this moment with Troy Scribner back in the minors, Jesse Chavez in the bullpen, and Alex Meyer on the DL. Meyer has shown great promise throughout the season, but just can’t seem to stay healthy. When he is ready to comeback, the Angels will have a dilemma of where to put him.
Skaggs on the other hand has had mixed results so far in his return from shoulder issues. So far Skaggs is 0-1 with a 2.61 ERA in his two starts since his early August return. He will make his third start tonight and hopefully he will continue to improve.
With Heaney back (hopefully) this week it will give the Angels another lefty who has tremendous potential. Hopefully he will make the Angels staff even better. Only time will tell. One thing is for sure is the pitching will be the key on whether the Angels will continue to surge in the standings.