In his first start for the Angels this season, he struck out four batters and scattered four hits over five scoreless innings. His pitch count ballooned after facing five batters in the fourth inning, but he was mostly efficient. His fastball hovered around 91 mph and was effective enough to draw five swings-and-misses and receive eight called strikes. He flashed a promising curveball, too.
Yet it was Peters’ sinker — a pitch that bears in on left-handed hitters instead of cutting over the plate like his four-seam fastball — that exalted this outing above others catcher Dustin Garneau witnessed as Peters’ battery-mate in triple-A Salt Lake.
“In Salt Lake, with the altitude, it’s hit or miss,” said Garneau, whose solo home run in the eighth capped the Angels’ offensive onslaught. “When it’s on, we’re running with it. If not, we stay away. But today, we were running with it. When he’s got a feel for it, it’s lights out for him.”
The added offering strengthens a repertoire that was once advanced enough to earn Peters, 26, distinction as one of the best prospects in the Miami Marlins organization. And its development was one thing that underscored the Angels’ under-the radar acquisition of Peters during the winter.
Peters had been designated for assignment after struggling to find a foothold with the Marlins last year. He battled command issues upon making his first major league opening day roster and spent the year shuttling between triple-A and the big league club. He had a combined 5.94 earned-run average over 26 games (24 starts) in 2018 and did not earn a September call-up.
A restart with a new organization has helped Peters flourish, his 6.47 ERA at triple-A notwithstanding. His command has improved and with it his ground-ball rate.
“I’ve thrown the ball, for the most part, where I wanted to,” Peters said.
The series victory did not do much for the Angels (52-49) in the standings. They remain six games out of second-place in the wild card and 12 games out of first place in the division.
As they have tried to move on from the crushing loss of teammate Tyler Skaggs, the Angels have run into more problems in their rotation. Matt Harvey flamed out and was cut from the roster. Heaney got hurt. JC Ramirez continued to pitch too unevenly in his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery to be counted on as a starter.
So Peters’ strong outing Sunday, coupled with rookie Griffin Canning’s two-run performance a night earlier, was enough to provide some comfort. For now, Peters seems slated to get an extended look.
“I thought he did an outstanding job,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “The fastball-curveball mix, occasional changeup to righties. When he throws strikes he can be tough on guys. His curveball is a tough pitch to square up. I give credit to him.”
A process that can take up to a week was cut short Sunday when the Angels requested unconditional release waivers on right-hander Matt Harvey. He will become a free agent upon approval. Harvey was designated for assignment and exposed on waivers after Thursday’s game at Angel Stadium. If a team had picked him up, it would have taken on a prorated portion of the $11-million contract he signed with the Angels. The Angels remain on the hook for his entire salary. … First baseman/left-handed reliever Jared Walsh was optioned back to triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday to make room on the active roster for Peters. … Albert Pujols opened scoring Sunday in the second when he drilled Yusei Kikuchi’s first pitch for a two-out solo home run. It was his 15th homer of the season, and it catapulted him into another elite group: Barry Bonds, Eddie Murray and Frank Robinson are the only other players with 15 or more homers in each of their first 19 seasons. … Mike Trout hit his 32nd home run of the season.