The LA Angels, as we all know, are well out of the postseason picture. The rest of the 2019 season is all about building towards 2020, where they hope to be a much improved squad. And Keynan Middleton is the perfect spark plug to get things going.
Prior to the LA Angels season, there was some noise that shutdown reliever Keynan Middleton could return sometime in June or July. After tearing his UCL on May 10th and undergoing Tommy John surgery shortly after, he was hoping to return in an accelerated 13 months.
However, as we know now, that was not the case. He wasn’t on board to help the Angels in June nor prior to the deadline. By the time he takes the mound for the Angels for the first time in 2019, his focus will be purely on his own progress.
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However, Keynan Middleton is the perfect player to jumpstart the Angels’ quest for the playoffs in 2020.
But Vincent, it’s still 2019!
I know it sounds weird, but hear me out.
What could possibly inspire this Angels team? A young, fiery pitcher with all the talent required to be one of the best in the MLB at what he does. Hansel Robles is entrenched as the closer, and Middleton will likely be used in low-leverage spots to begin anyway, but any time #39 steps on the mound, his teammates will be as emotional and excited as he was prior to his first day back.
While how Middleton performs over the last month of the season might not be as important as a potential Gerrit Cole signing, it has a significant impact on how the team goes into the offseason. A pitcher coming back from injury to have an exceptional final month of the season could prove as a metaphor for this Angels team, as they look to rebound from their disappointing 2019 season and contend in 2020.
Keynan Middleton was not as vital to 2019 as he hoped to be for the Angels. Rehabbing in Arizona for months, a minor setback in May, and shuttling between Salt Lake and Inland Empire for rehab appearances were the majority of his season.
August 27th, Keynan Middleton was in the Angels bullpen for the first time in 471 days. While he didn’t make an appearance in the game, he was apart of the team again. When he makes his 2019 debut in the coming days, the entire team will be filled with excitement. As Middleton progresses through the month, the excitement amongst the team will only grow, and will flow into the offseason, and give them a boost into 2020.