The Los Angeles Angels used their 15th starting pitcher of the season on Thursday evening. Going for an improbable sweep of the New York Yankees, Joe Maddon turned to Packy Naughton, a 25-year old making his first career MLB start. Naughton was dealt to the Angels via the Cincinnati Reds in the Brian Goodwin trade.
Naughton relied on his defense to help him out, as a double play got him through a scoreless first inning. Naughton also put up a clean second inning with two strikeouts. However, things fell apart in the third inning, when a two-out rally scored the first two Yankees runs.
In total, Naughton pitched 3.2 innings on Thursday, allowing three earned runs on six hits and two walks. He struck out two, both in the second inning.
Despite the three runs and the loss, Maddon was pleased with what he saw from Naughton in his first career big league start, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“I was really pleased, actually,” Maddon said. “He threw about 60 pitches, and then we turned it over at that point. But he demonstrated the makeup we had talked about. He had pitchability with the sinker and the changeup off the sinker. I thought he did a wonderful job.”
Maddon then stated that — despite having no clarity on the Angels rotation over the final month of the season — he would be happy is Naughton could start again.
“We haven’t moved it out there yet,” Maddon said. “I would not be disappointed in any way if we did, but I don’t know right now where we’re going to go with the rotation the rest of the year. But I thought he represented himself really well today.”
The Angels have 28 games left, and will want to use Shohei Ohtani, Jose Suarez, and Jaime Barria as the main three pieces there. Beyond that, there’s a host of places they could go with the remainder of their games. Reid Detmers will also likely see significant time once he is off the IL.
There is a chance that Naughton earned himself a second start with his performance against the Yankees. If not, he’ll be transferred back to a middle reliever spot, eating the bulk of the innings in relief.
Thursday’s loss likely won’t be held against him in this decision. He gave up just three runs and Yankees ace Gerrit Cole simply dominated the Angels. He struck out 15 batters over seven innings, allowing just one run on four hits.
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