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Los Angeles Angels notes: Griffin Canning’s rookie season provides additional hope for 2020

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It was the 12th of June two years ago when the Los Angeles Angels selected UCLA starting pitcher Griffin Canning in the second round of the MLB draft. Many scouts had graded Canning’s ability as a first-round talent but concerns about arm fatigue allowed him to fall to the Halos.

Just over two years later, the right-hander’s rookie year has concluded with him experiencing elbow inflammation after completing a successful rookie season. After reaching the Angels ahead of schedule, many may question whether the starter was overused this season. 

So, was the young hurler thrust into the Angels’ major-league rotation too soon? 

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While it may have seemed like that as Canning seemed to struggle at times mid-summer, the fact remains the Halos have been extremely cautious with his playing time.   

The Angels were so conservative with him that they didn’t allow him to pitch immediately after signing him in 2017. When he finally made his professional debut last season, the club kept him on a strict pitch count. The results were outstanding and he quickly moved up from High-A Inland Empire to Double-A Mobile before finishing the season at Triple-A Salt Lake. He started two no-hitters in his first season of professional baseball and went into this season in the Salt Lake Bees’ starting rotation.   

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Canning made his major league debut in Anaheim on April 30, striking out six Toronto Blue Jays over four-and-one-third innings. Despite being kept on a pitch count that would often result in him being relieved before completing five innings, Canning still went on to win five games in seventeen starts for the Angels. He also recorded 96 strikeouts in just over 90 innings in his first season of MLB play

The Angels probably should have shut his season down after the Angels fell out of contention in the first homestand of August. The decision to do so this week is following one of his best starts of the season. Last Sunday, he matched a career-best seven innings and eight strikeouts in the Angels’ victory over the White Sox. 

The challenge ahead for Canning and the Angels is to stretch Canning’s arm out to allow him to consistently pitch into the sixth and seventh innings of games next year. He was at his best when attacking hitters consistently and keeping himself from getting into deep counts with hitters. Canning will still only be 23 years old on Opening Day next year and surely has to be a part of the Angels’ plans as they construct their 2020 club. 

The best thing the Angels could do for Canning going into next season is adding one or two top-of-the-rotation starters to take some of the pressure off this young talent.    

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This Week for the Halos

The Angels returned home from the Texas heat Sunday evening and get some much-needed rest this coming week. They have off-days the next two Mondays and this Thursday which will give the pitching staff a chance to take a breath. 

Although official starters have not been announced for this week’s games, I would expect the Angels to see the following match-ups this coming week: 

7:07 PM (PT) Tuesday hosting Texas: Andrew Heaney versus Mike Minor 

7:07 AM (PT) Wednesday hosting Texas: Patrick Sandoval versus Ariel Jurado 

7:07 PM (PT) Friday hosting Boston: Dillon Peters versus Nate Eovaldi 

6:07 PM (PT) Saturday hosting Boston: Jaime Barria versus David Price 

1:07 PM (PT) Sunday hosting Boston: Andrew Heaney versus Rick Porcello  

Hot Down the Line in The Farm 

The Angels’ first-round draft pick from last year, Jordyn Adams, was promoted from Low-A Burlington to High-A Inland Empire this weekend.  The 19-year old Adams had a .250 batting average with twenty-four extra-base hits and twelve stolen bases at Burlington and will get to play the final week of the season at the next level. The five-tool outfielder has been red hot, hitting .350 with five stolen bases in his final ten games prior to his promotion to the California League. Adams’s promotion will provide a preview of what to expect when he likely begins next season as the 66ers’ starting center fielder. 

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