Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Griffin Canning has had an up-and-down season, much like almost all of the other rotation players. In his first four starts, he really struggled, posting an era of 8.40 and allowing an opponent OPS of .999. This rough stretch hit its boiling point when he allowed six runs in 2.1 innings against the Houston Astros.
After that performance, he turned things around instantly. Over his next three starts, he allowed a total of three runs in 17.0 innings (a 1.59 ERA) while bringing the opponent OPS down to .654, almost .350 down from the first set of starts. It finally felt like he has figured things out and was capable of reaching that next level.
Then, in the second game of Thursday’s doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins, Canning regressed and turned in one of his worst outings of the year. In just 2.0 innings, he gave up three hits and four walks to go along with a grand slam for four earned runs. It came in a losing effort, giving him a 3-3 record.
Joe Maddon spoke about what went wrong for Canning and why he struggled after such good recent performances, according to Daniel Guerrero of MLB.com:
“He got away from his fastball,” Maddon said. “He had really good stuff. That was ace stuff today. [He] just got off his fastball in the first inning.
“I thought he got into the changeup and other pitches too much and they just kept working it. … We gave them momentum back and that was the tough part, especially on a night that I really thought when I saw him throw the first couple pitches that we might get a complete game out of him. That would have been beautiful.”
Canning said that getting away from his fastball was not predetermined, and that he couldn’t explain why it happened.
“I don’t know if it was not really part of the game plan. Just in the moment [I] went away from it for whatever reason,” he said. “I wasn’t locating it as well as I know I can. That might have played a little bit of a role, but wasn’t anything that was a part of the plan going in or anything.”
Canning has had enough positive output this season to leave behind any concern regarding Thursday, but consistency will be key for him the rest of the season. As is the case with almost every other Angels pitcher, going from dominant to lackluster is a back-and-forth that simply can’t happen.
With the uncertainty surrounding the next starts of guys like Dylan Bundy and Shohei Ohtani, it’s unclear exactly what the rotation will look like in the coming weeks. Canning, however, needs to be ready to get out there and perform at a high level when called upon again.
Phil Gosselin has career day in doubleheader
While Canning’s disappointing day came in Game 2 of the doubleheader, it was Phil Gosselin who was the story in Game 1. He had four RBI’s including a home run and a three-run double. Maddon was not surprised by what he saw from Gosselin, but said that it was still a welcome sight.