Griffin Canning's solid rehab start leaves Angels with tough choice

Mar 12, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Griffin Canning (47)
Mar 12, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Griffin Canning (47) / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels broke camp without naming their sixth starter. Heading into Spring Training, the Halos had four pitchers competing for that spot. Out of Chase Silseth, Jaime Barria, Tucker Davidson, and Griffin Canning, only Silseth has officially bowed out of that race as he's in the minors to begin the season.

Barria and Davidson made the Opening Day roster, but both have worked out of the bullpen to begin the season. Griffin Canning did not make the Opening Day roster, he was placed on the IL with a groin injury.

Canning is fine, and just made his first rehab start. That went very well, and the Angels now have a tough choice to make when it comes to the sixth starter spot.

Should the LA Angels sacrifice depth for a marginal upgrade?

Griffin Canning pitched well for Single-A Inland Empire, going five innings and allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits, walking two and striking out 10. Results are fun, but they're not what I care about in a rehab start in Single-A. What I do care about is the fact that he threw 90 pitches, showing that he's completely stretched out and ready to go.

What the Angels do with Canning remains to be seen. He was better than Barria and Davidson this spring but hasn't been anything special in his MLB career. When last seen on an MLB mound in 2021, Canning was being sent down to the minors after posting a 5.60 ERA in 14 appearances.

The Angels will need a sixth starter on April 12. Canning made his start on the date that would have him lined up to pitch the 12th on full rest. This could mean the Angels promote him for that start, but that would come with a consequence.

Canning is the only one of the three with options. The Angels can have him pitch in AAA and be ready for whenever they'd need him.

Unless the Angels opt to demote someone like Andrew Wantz which I wouldn't recommend, the Halos would have to DFA someone to roster Canning. That means losing a depth arm which could potentially come in handy.

While Canning is probably a bit better than both Barria and Davidson, is it worth losing an arm just for that small upgrade? We don't even truly know what Canning is right now at the big league level. Spring Training performance is great, but not the same as regular season performance.

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