On the same day the Toronto Blue Jays barrel into town with the son of Hall of Fame outfielder Vladimir Guerrero, the Angels will roll out one of their own top prospects.
Right-hander Griffin Canning, 22, will make his major league debut Tuesday at Angel Stadium, manager Brad Ausmus said Friday.
There were signs this move was imminent. Canning was scratched this week from his scheduled start for triple-A Salt Lake so he could pitch at the Angels’ spring training complex in Tempe, Ariz. He threw 90 pitches in a controlled environment Wednesday, a threshold he hadn’t reached since being selected out of UCLA in the second round of the 2017 draft.
Canning, an alumnus of Santa Margarita High, has thrown only 129 1/3 innings since making his professional debut last year but he’s ascended quickly. He advanced three levels in one season and had made only 12 starts when he received a promotion to Salt Lake last June.
“We’ve always liked the stuff,” Ausmus said at Kauffman Stadium, where the Angels began a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals. “There was a little caution because of the limited time in the professional ranks. And then of course the pitch count, which we addressed by sending him to Arizona to get up to 90 pitches.”
Canning made three starts this season for Salt Lake and had a 0.56 earned-run average in 16 innings, striking out 17 while walking only two. His success prompted speculation that the Angels might choose to add him to their roster sooner than later.
Pitching woes have backed the Angels into a corner early this season. Left-hander Andrew Heaney, the only starting pitcher to avoid significant time on the disabled list last year, has been sidelined since spring training because of an elbow injury that did not require surgery. Once the season began, few of the Angels’ starting pitchers were able to work five innings in a game.
Ausmus had to use his relief corps so frequently through 26 games that the bullpen has begun to resemble a carousel. The Angels refreshed their bullpen again Friday by optioning reliever Matt Ramsey, who pitched the ninth inning of Thursday’s 11-5 win over the New York Yankees at Angel Stadium, back to triple-A and recalling fellow right-hander Luke Bard.
Canning joins a rotation that entered Friday with a 6.06 ERA, the third highest in baseball, in only 117 1/3 innings.
Embattled reliever Allen on injured list
Reliever Cody Allen, who earlier this week lost his role as closer, was placed on the injured list because of a lumbar spine strain.
Ausmus said Allen, who did not travel to Kansas City, first felt tightness in his lower back during last week’s series against Seattle. The tension eased after a few days but returned before Allen pitched two-thirds of an inning Thursday.
Allen, who has surrendered six earned runs and walked 10 in nine innings, has been struggling with his command since making adjustments to his mechanics with the help of pitching coach Doug White and bullpen coach Andrew Bailey. The back injury, which Ausmus said Thursday was minor, worsened the problem. He walked three, gave up a run and struck out two Thursday.
“I asked him [during the game] how his back was and he said it was fine,” Ausmus said Friday. “He admitted it wasn’t afterward. To his credit he was trying to be a warrior. … Certainly when your back tightens up it’s going to affect everything you do.”
Left-hander Tyler Skaggs (left ankle sprain) was activated from the injured list to start Friday against the Royals. … Starters Felix Pena and Chris Stratton were moved to the bullpen for this series in Kansas City. Pena, however, is expected to return to the rotation next week, barring excessive usage as a reliever. Canning, Pena and Skaggs are scheduled to start against the Blue Jays in Anaheim. … Kaleb Cowart, the Angels’ first round pick of the 2010 draft, was assigned to double-A Mobile on Friday. He had been in extended spring training, getting ready to spend the season as a two-way player for the first time in his career.