Keynan Middleton Finishes Strong in Debut Season for LA Angels

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 13: catcher Martin Maldonado
SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 13: catcher Martin Maldonado /

Keynan Middleton was one of the highest ranked prospects for the LA Angels when he made his debut this season. It was not the easiest of campaigns for the young flamethrower, but he finished strong and has a bright future ahead for the Halos.

When the LA Angels drafted Keynan Middleton in 2013, they drafted a raw starting pitcher. However, what they ended up with was completely different, but turned out to be much better in Middleton’s rookie campaign.

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Middleton developed into an absolute flamethrower. He was hitting 100 MPH consistently, with a devastating slider to pair with it. His control was not always there, but his velocity and movement was premier stuff.

Middleton started the season in dominant fashion. With a 2.70 ERA and 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings, Middleton looked like he was going to join the ranks of great Halo relievers. The youngster slowed down in June with a 3.86 ERA. For a rookie, he was still having a solid season.

Fans fell in love with Middleton due to his emotional outings. He was out to prove that he was the best each and every inning. He was the heart and soul of the Angels bullpen.

Middleton was living the dream in the bullpen. Then July came. In nine appearances (eight innings), Middleton allowed seven runs (and three big flies). His ERA for the month was 7.88, and his SO/9 fell below seven. Middleton was falling apart after a dominating start where he shut down rookie phenoms Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger, sending them down on three 100 mph fastballs and a knee-buckling slider, respectively.

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Middleton eventually got it together. He bounced back in August with a 2.63 ERA and began striking hitters out at a better rate as well. He struck out 18 batters throughout the month and did not walk any batters outside of an intentional walk.

Middleton finished his season Saturday night, as it is unlikely he pitches back-to-back, even with the season ending. He pitched 1.2 innings, allowing one walk while striking out Kyle Seager and Jacob Hannemann.

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Middleton’s rookie season was not perfect. However, no rookie season is perfect. To end it with a sub-4.00 ERA, especially after that disastrous July, should be considered a big win for the future of Keynan Middleton and the LA Angels bullpen.