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Angels Turn to Detmers to Even Series in Cleveland

The rookie is looking to build upon an excellent start against the Astros last Sunday

MLB: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

After managing one of the best comeback wins in franchise history on Thursday in Detroit, the Angels fell flat in their series opener against the Indians yesterday, losing 9-1 to bring their record back to an even .500 for the 26th time this season. They’ll try to recapture the magic from that Tigers series and even things up in Cleveland on Saturday, and they’ll do it by sending rookie Reid Detmers to the mound for his fourth major-league start.

After two rough starts against the Athletics and Dodgers to begin his career, Detmers bounced back in a huge way against an equally strong Astros team, tossing six innings of one-run ball while striking out six and walking just two. It was a very encouraging outing for the 22-year-old rookie, and one potential reason behind his success in that one was the increased usage of his “Hell’s Rainbow” curveball.

After hovering around 25 percent usage with the big breaker in his first two starts, Detmers brought it all the way up to 36.8 percent last Sunday, and with this higher usage came great results. He got a whopping 10 called strikes with his curveball against the Astros, and he also limited hard contact when his opponents did decide to swing at it to the tune of a paltry 74 mph average exit velocity against it. All of this is to say that using the curveball more was a great decision for Detmers, and it will be interesting to see if he continues with it against a Cleveland lineup that lacks a lot of the firepower that Houston does.

On the other side of the ledger is fellow rookie starter Triston McKenzie, who like Detmers, is also coming off of the best start of his young career. In that outing, McKenzie came within four outs of history, taking a perfect game into the 8th inning before giving up a base hit to the Tigers’ Harold Castro. He struck out 11 and walked none while giving up just the lone hit in what went down as one of the most impressive games by any pitcher in the league this year. This was very easily the best start of McKenzie’s up-and-down season, and it might be one that gives the former top prospect the confidence to continue rolling from here on out.

Something working for both young pitchers in this one is the fact that the lineups that they are facing have been the opposite of strong lately. The Angels have notably struggled with consistency issues from their bats over the last month, and the Indians have gotten less than stellar production from theirs all season, ranking in the bottom third of the league in both runs scored and OPS. You can never fully predict how a game will go, but all signs point to Saturday’s affair being a low-scoring pitcher’s duel.

Angels News and Notes

  • Mike Trout spoke to the media for the first time this month before the game, where he said that he thinks he’s getting close to a rehab assignment, although there’s no set date for one as of yet. According to him, the last big hurdle is the soreness that comes after he pushes himself, which has been just about every other day.
  • Trout also said that he hasn’t considered shutting things down for this season and wants to be back out there when fully healthy, but he did admit that time is running short.
  • Joe Maddon said that Alex Cobb suffered a setback in his rehab from his right wrist inflammation while throwing, and that he doesn’t expect Cobb to pitch anytime soon.
  • Jose Quintana is available out of the bullpen today, which likely means that he won’t be in the starting rotation moving forward. The Halos are expected to continue with a 5-man group of Jose Suarez, Dylan Bundy, Shohei Ohtani, Jaime Barria and Detmers for the short term.