The Los Angeles Angels are hoping the delayed start to the season will help injured pitcher Griffin Canning get healthy for when play resumes.
The Los Angeles Angels feared the worst when Griffin Canning was sent in for an MRI on his right elbow in late February. The second-year starter had missed the final month of the 2019 season with discomfort in the joint and after experiencing recurring pain following his first spring appearance, the club had to see it as an ominous sign.
The MRI results were a bit more encouraging though, with no tear of the UCL found, but some “chronic changes” were identified in the exam instead. The right-hander avoided the dreaded Tommy John surgery and instead opted for a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection. The pitcher was still shut down, but there was hope that Canning would not be lost for the season, starting another year of potential injuries to an Angels pitching staff that has seemingly been cursed by them.
So the team waited. And then the game paused, as the Coronavirus pandemic shut down all of Major League Baseball and the world as we know it. However, that shutdown may prove to be a blessing for the Angels, as they received some good news on Tuesday.
After being cleared to resume throwing on April 1st, Canning has been using the delay to ramp up his workouts and try to return to the field with the rest of the team. He took a big step in that direction, when he stepped on a mound for the first time in his recovery, as the pitcher posted on Instagram (and as shared with the rest of us via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic).
With the return of the MLB season still up in the fair, but presumed to occur around late June, early July, Canning has ample time to work his way back to health and still be a major contributor to the pitching staff in 2020. The right-hander looked solid during his 2019 debut, spinning 90.1 innings with the Halos last season. In that time, he managed a 4.58 ERA, a 4.32 FIP, and a 9.56 K/9 mark, good enough for a 1.3 fWAR over his 18 appearances (17 starts). Some of that damage was done via the home run (17 on the season), so the Angels are hoping that he’ll make strides in limiting those by reducing his fly-ball (44.5%) and hard-hit rates (41.6%) in 2020.
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It is a step in the right direction for an Angels pitching staff that has seen little good news on the injury front in recent years. However, the team has been on the receiving end of better omens over the last week, as the team can add Griffin Canning’s tidings to the ones received late last week in regards to the recovery of Shohei Ohtani as well. With another month or more before the season will likely begin, things may yet line up for a healthy rotation after all.