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Junk Steps To The Mound In Chicago Searching To Snap Angels Two-Game Losing Streak

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Janson Junk (Angels No. 22 Prospect) Focused On Redemption Heading Into His 2nd Career Major League Start

MLB: Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Besides two home runs last night, the Angels offense went silent into the Windy City night, dropping the first of a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox. Pitching struggled, with the exception of Kyle Tyler who tossed three shutout innings of relief, as the Halos fell to 70-74 overall this season and now needing to go at least 11-7 in their final 18 games to clear an even .500 record. The last time the Angels ended a season .500 or better was 2015 when they went 85-77, finishing third in the AL West. However, as a new day arises, evening this series in game two would bode well in the right direction as the Angels are looking to close out this eight-game road trip, where they currently sit 2-4 through six games, on a winning streak.

Pitching Matchup

The youth movement in the Angels starting pitching rotation will be on display for the second consecutive night as right-hander Janson Junk will take to the hill for just his second career major league appearance. The Federal Way, WA native took the loss in his major league debut on September 5 versus the Texas Rangers yielding five runs (one earned) on six hits with only two strikeouts in 3.2 innings. He did however record his first career strikeout against Rangers outfielder Jason Martin to end the second frame.

Prior to his debut, Junk found success in the minors first with the Somerset Patriots (Double-A Yankees) going 4-1 with a 1.78 ERA in 14 games (12 starts) before being acquired by the Angels in a trade for Andrew Heaney. In five starts with Double-A Rocket City, the righty went 2-2 with a 5.27 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 27.1 innings.

For White Sox manager Tony La Russa, he will hand the ball to southpaw Dallas Keuchel for his 28th start of the season. The former Arkansas Razorback enters tonight 8-9 with a 5.33 ERA over 145.1 innings pitched and a .278 BAA. Keuchel has currently lost three of his last four decisions, while also allowing five or more earned runs in four consecutive starts. It may have been the first week of the season and both teams looked completely different than they do now in the present, but the Halos knocked around Keuchel at the Big A on April 2. The lefty survived only four innings while surrendering four runs on six hits and a home run in a no decision effort that eventually led to a 12-8 White Sox victory.

2021 has played out much differently for Keuchel than the limited 2020 season even though health has been on his side. His 28, now 29 appearances is the fourth most of his 10-year career, but by pitching to more contact, he’s recorded the second-most earned runs (86) in his career (88 in 2013 with Houston) and given up the most home runs (24). Swinging early and often will definitely be a key to success for the Angels.

White Hot Walsh

It is very clear that Jared Walsh has climbed out of his slump and flexing power here in September. After a tough month of July batting just .208 and staying sluggish through most of August, Walsh broke out just before the calendar flipped to September, which is a month he thrived in just a year ago. Ever since going 3-for-3 with three runs batted in and two runs scored against the San Diego Padres on August 28, the former 39th Round Pick in 2015 is smashing a .386 batting average (17-for-44) with 4 HR, 11 RBI and 5 Doubles.

Currently on this road trip, Walsh is batting .333 (6-for-18) with a home run, two runs batted in and three doubles. His two-run home run in the fourth inning of last night’s game extended his hitting streak to 12 games, which is his personal best for this season.

Arm To The Rescue

In a year where the bullpen could easily be characterized as “tumultuous”, reliever Jimmy Herget has made an impact in just a short period of time. Coming over from the Texas Rangers on August 16 via a minor league free agent deal, the Tampa, FL native is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA and nine strikeouts in five appearances. He has shut out opponents in four of five appearances when tossing more than one inning of relief.

Angels News & Notes

  • OF Jo Adell placed on 10-Day Injured-List (left abdominal strain) retroactive to September 12 when he ran into the fence in Houston - Manager Joe Maddon expects Adell NOT to play again this season
  • INF Jose Rojas recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake - batting .259 with 8 HR and 34 RBI in 55 games with the Bees
  • OF Mike Trout traveled with the team to Chicago to continue working out, but Maddon conceded the fact that [Trout] coming back to play this year is probably not going to happen.
  • RHP/DH Shohei Ohtani was named to TIME Magazine’s Top-100 Most Influential People in the World of 2021