The Los Angeles Angels have long struggled to find consistent pitching. However, they took that to a new level on Friday when their starter was a player — Cooper Criswell — that Joe Maddon had never met.
Criswell was hit around, allowing three earned runs and six knocks over 1.1 innings, continuing a stretch of short starts by Halos pitchers. To eat some innings in middle relief, the Angels turned to Packy Naughton, a Triple-A starter that is currently in the big league bullpen.
Naughton was incredible effective against a talented San Diego Padres team. For the night, he threw 58 pitches over 4.1 innings, allowing three hits, two walks, and two runs, but zero earned. He also struck out a pair.
Maddon had nothing but praise for Naughton and the way he was able to give the Angels exactly what they needed during the middle innings, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“I thought Packy was outstanding,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “He really was. He attacked the strike zone with a variety of different pitches. He’s definitely not afraid. He’s got a really good presence out there. It was an outstanding performance.”
Naughton’s performance could have put him in consideration to start for the Angels the next time they’re in desperate need, which could be as soon as next week.
“I don’t know yet; we haven’t decided,” Maddon said. “But I like him. When you give him the ball on the mound, he’s pretty confident. It’s not unlike what I saw with [Austin] Warren when I first met him on the mound. I like the way he is. He’s self-confident, and he attacks with strikes. So it was all good stuff.”
The Angels are currently without Dylan Bundy, Alex Cobb, Patrick Sandoval, Reid Detmers, Austin Warren, and Jose Marte. Outings like this from Naughton certainly gives Maddon something to think about as he attempts to plan ahead.
Criswell, on the other hand, likely won’t remain a part of the team moving forward. There were things to like about the young prospect, but Naughton’s performance very quickly outshined his.
Maddon trying to make adaptations on the fly
Down four starters and two key bullpen pieces would make any team falter, but the Angels were a team lacking consistent pitching before injuries, making it a serious problem now.
Maddon is now simply trying to survive this period of time with the players he has, but it does mean that sometimes, players like Criswell will have to come up the big league team to make spot starts.