We’re not going to talk about Chris Sale, because come on. We’re not going to talk about Ken Griffey, Jr., even though I could write for hours on end about how much he meant to me growing up. There’s plenty out there on both.
Instead, we remember Tyler Skaggs, right? Well, he pitches for the Los Angeles Angels organization, and if you haven’t noticed, virtually nobody is healthy there. Garrett Richards? Still putting off Tommy John surgerya��he may just get through it. Andrew Heaney? Tommy John surgery. Nick Tropeano? Take a guess. And C.J. Wilson, well, I’m fairly certain he’s been injured his entire career.
If you had Jered Weaver staying the healthiest of all Angels pitchers this season, you deserve a pretty extravagant prize. I don’t know what it is, but it’s something. Even Tim Lincecum, who has been really, really bad since making his return to the majors, will remain in the Angels rotation. That is just how injured they are. That is just how thin they have become.
And then there’s Tyler Skaggs, who hasn’t thrown a pitch in a Major League game since 2014.
Skaggs was drafted No. 40 overall in 2009 by the Angels, but that’s not where he’s spent his entire career. From 2011 through 2013, Skaggs was a very highly-touted prospecta��culminating with Top 20 appearances on multiple lists in consecutive seasons.
He maintained solid numbers over parts of seven seasons at the minor league level, but before he ever got a shot in the show with the Angels, would be dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks as the player to be named later. Just about two years later, in 2012, the 20-year-old Skaggs would make six starts. The results would be poor, just as his seven starts the following year would show. In 68 total innings for the Diamondbacks, he’d post a 5.48 ERA, 5.49 DRA, 7.4 K/9, and 3.8 BB/9.
At 21 years old, however, Skaggs would have plenty of time to turn his rough early start around. He’d also be given a change of scenerya��albeit, a familiar one. In December of 2013, a three-team trade would see Skaggs head back to the Angels, where he’d make 18 starts in 2014. This Tuesday will mark his first big league start since, however.
Skaggs logged 113 innings in 2014; both his ERA (4.30) and DRA (3.74) were significantly lower than in his stint with the D-Backs. His strikeout rate fell below seven per nine, but he made up for that by lowering his walk rate to just under three per ninea��not to mention a career-high groundball rate of 51 percenta��up from 45 percent the year before in just under 39 innings. And then, well, he’d require Tommy John surgery.
Seriously, is there something in the water out in Los Angeles?
Now, imagine the potential of this rotation, if healthy: Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, Nick Tropeano, and Tyler Skaggs. All are young, all have shown the ability. Now, all need to return to their healthiest.
For the 25-year-old Skaggs, that long journey back continues Tuesday against the Royals. And while the next couple months could go either way for the left-hander, it was long past due for the Angels to receive some positive news regarding their rotation.