Angels’ starting rotation a huge question mark against Orioles this weekend

Angels pitcher Jose Suarez pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the second inning on June 15 in St. Petersburg, Fla.
(Steve Nesius / Associated Press)

The closer the July 31 trade deadline gets, the murkier the Angels’ pitching plans.

Before Tuesday’s 5-4 win over the Dodgers, manager Brad Ausmus said the team had not yet determined who would start during the four-game series with the Baltimore Orioles that begins Thursday at Angel Stadium.

“We have a general idea of what can happen,” Ausmus said. “But some of that is subject to change based on bullpen usage.”


Ausmus said after Tuesday’s game that Griffin Canning would start Friday and Felix Pena would be preceded by an opener Sunday.

The uncertainty was indicative of a larger problem the Angels have faced in the wake of the passing of Tyler Skaggs. Their starting pitching options are limited. Offseason acquisition Matt Harvey has been officially released. Andrew Heaney’s shoulder injury will keep him from throwing for at least a few more days. JC Ramirez, recovering from Tommy John surgery, remains on track to rejoin the team as a reliever.

And in a move designed to give themselves an extra bench player during the Freeway Series, the Angels recalled infielder Taylor Ward and optioned pitcher Dillon Peters back to triple-A Salt Lake. Peters acquitted himself well in a scoreless five-inning effort Sunday and could have started for the Angels on Friday. However, he now will not be able to return until 10 days have passed or another injury occurs.

Tyler Skaggs friends, family and Angels teammates gather at St. Monica Catholic Church to honor the pitcher’s life and mourn his death.

Additionally, rookie Canning will receive extra rest before making his 15th start of the season. The 23-year-old, on an innings limit, has thrown 87 1/3 innings already this season. The most innings he has ever thrown in a season was 119 during his final year at UCLA in 2017.

The only thing the Angels have going for them in the short term is that they can soon recall rookie Jose Suarez, who was optioned July 15, from Salt Lake.

As they decide if they want to improve the team for a potential playoff push, the starting rotation will surely be at the center of discussion. It entered Tuesday with a 4.57 ERA, 11th-highest in the major leagues.

Ramirez awaits clarity

Angels reliever Noe Ramirez has yet to hear from the league regarding his appeal of the three-game suspension handed him after he threw a pitch near the head of Houston Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick.

Ramirez was told the process could take unusually long.

Ramirez plunked Marisnick between the shoulders with a 90-mph fastball on a one-and-one count 10 days after Marisnick collided with Jonathan Lucroy, leaving the Angels catcher with a concussion and broken nose.

Short hops

The Dodgers dedicated half of the proceeds from Tuesday’s 50-50 raffle, which had a jackpot of $80,270, to the Tyler Skaggs Baseball Foundation. The Texas Rangers and Astros did the same thing when the Angels first visited their ballparks following Skaggs’ death. … Shohei Ohtani has progressed steadily in his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery. He expects to introduce breaking balls in his bullpen sessions soon. The Angels haven’t decided at what point he will stop his throwing program for the offseason. General manager Billy Eppler earlier this season said Ohtani might begin to face hitters before the end of the season, a schedule that would allow the Angels to find out before spring training if Ohtani might have encountered a setback.