Grading Griffin Canning's first start in almost two years

Apr 12, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Griffin Canning (47)
Apr 12, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Griffin Canning (47) / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Griffin Canning returned to a big league mound in a game that counted for the first time since July 2, 2021. When last seen on the mound at The Big A pitching for the Los Angeles Angels, Canning had allowed six runs while recording just eight outs against the 52-win Orioles in a loss.

Canning was subsequently sent down to AAA, where he'd hurt his back in his first start there. That injury knocked him out for the remainder of that season and he'd miss the entire 2022 campaign as well.

The right-hander did not have a spot secured in the Angels rotation but pitched well in Spring Training and once he showed he was healthy enough to get off of the Injured List, the Angels plugged him in to start their series finale against the Nationals.

LA Angels SP Griffin Canning's return couldn't have gone much better

For his first start in nearly two years, the Angels really couldn't have asked for much more out of Griffin Canning. I don't care that it was against the Nationals, he could've pitched worse than he did.

Canning faced only one batter over the minimum in his first time through the Washington order, allowing a hit and hitting a batter. The fourth inning was his only really rough inning as he allowed four straight hits to begin the frame. Fortunately, they were all singles, so Canning only allowed two runs after Luis Garcia grounded into a fielder's choice.

With the Angels down 2-1, Washington had runners on second and third with only one out. Canning could've let this game get a bit out of hand, but he buckled down and struck out Lane Thomas on three pitches before getting C.J. Abrams swinging to end the threat. He allowed two runs, but in an inning where he allowed four hits before getting an out, it could've been much worse.

Canning then delivered a six-pitch top of the fifth inning before getting what I felt was a quick hook after throwing just 69 pitches (he threw 90 in his rehab start).

Nonetheless, I will take Canning allowing two runs in five innings any day, no matter the opponent. Most of the time with this offense two runs in five innings should be enough for the team to win, and sure enough, they did just that. He didn't walk a batter and struck out four. Again, there really wasn't much more I could've asked for with this being his first start back in nearly two seasons.

Grade: B+

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