The Los Angeles Angels are trying to secure one of the two Wild Card spots in the American League, and their starting rotation is about to get a nice boost.
Angels starting pitcher Andrew Heaney is expected to make his return to the rotation on Friday when his team visits the Baltimore Orioles. Heaney, 26, has not made a Major League start since April of 2016.
Heaney tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow during his first start of the season in 2016. The Angels initially decided to give him a platelet rich plasma injection in his left elbow, and then placed him on the disabled list. Things did not really improve after six weeks, so Heaney had Tommy John Surgery on July 1.
Considering the fact that he underwent Tommy John surgery just over 13 months ago, Heaney recovered relatively quickly. Now that he is healthy, he will have the opportunity to help the Angels as they make their playoff push.
Going into the 2017 season, it was clear that one of the Angels’ biggest weaknesses was their starting rotation. Ricky Nolasco is considered their No. 1 starter, and he has not exactly pitched like an ace. In 25 starts, Nolasco is 6-12 with a 5.16 ERA. Young right-hander Tyler Skaggs has pitched well since returning from the DL on August 5. On the season, Skaggs is 1-3 with an ERA of 3.63 in eight starts.
Despite not having a true ace this season, the Angels starting rotation has not been as bad as expected. Their starting pitchers have a combined ERA of 4.32, which is sixth-best in the AL. So far, the Angels have been able to survive with what they have. If all goes well, Heaney can now step in and be the top-of-the-rotation guy that they have been lacking.
Heaney has shown a a lot of promise in his brief MLB career. Originally drafted by the Miami Marlins in the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft, he was traded to the Dodgers in December of 2014 as part of the blockbuster deal that sent Dee Gordon to the Marlins. Just hours after being dealt to the Dodgers, he was traded to the Angels for Howie Kendrick.
The Angels called Heaney up in June of 2015. He proved that he was ready to be a Major League starting pitcher, going 6-4 with a 3.49 ERA in 18 starts. Had he been healthy these past two seasons, Heaney probably would have been one of the top starters in the Angels rotation.
As the postseason draws nearer, the Angels are going to need their players to keep performing like they have in order to hold onto a Wild Card spot in the AL. Their offense, led by Mike Trout, is in good shape. With Heaney about to return to the rotation, their pitching staff now has the chance to improve before the season ends.