The Los Angeles Angels have made a flurry of moves relating to their starting rotation in recent weeks. On Saturday, the Halos rounded out these moves by optioning Griffin Canning to Triple-A Salt Lake. Joe Maddon explained that it was so he can work on fastball command, something Canning desperately needed. In his place — on the roster, not the rotation — the Angels selected the contract of Andrew Wantz.
Wantz is a 25-year old right handed pitcher from North Carolina. He was drafted by the Angels in the seventh round of the 2018 MLB Draft after spending four years at UNC-Greensboro. He spent 2018 and 2019 climbing through the Angels minor league system, struggling at the Double-A level in 2019. However, he received an opportunity to pitch with Triple-A Salt Lake in 2021, and made the most of it.
Maddon gave some quick thoughts about the decision to bring Wantz up as a bullpen option and what he likes from Wantz’s game, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“I just spoke to him, he’s a really confident and engaging young man,” Maddon said. “He’s pitched up to four innings. In his own words, he’s been a hybrid starter-reliever. I’m not going to be afraid to throw him out there. He’s top of the zone with his fastball and a splitter.”
For those who want to see some of Wantz’s best stuff, the Salt Lake Bees posted a short highlight reel just last week that can be seen here:
Andrew Wantz in June:
Here are his 5 punchies from tonight ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/oKTDe0D6BD
— Salt Lake Bees (@SaltLakeBees) June 29, 2021
In eight appearances — and five starts — for Triple-A Salt Lake this season, Wantz sported a 2.10 ERA over 25.2 innings. He also held a phenomenal WHIP of 1.013 and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.17. He’s allowed a total of six earned runs this season.
While numbers like these likely aren’t sustainable at the Major League level, seeing them in Triple-A is certainly something impressive. With Canning struggling and the Angels not needing a sixth starter until after the All-Star break, this was the perfect opportunity to give Wantz a shot.
It will be interesting to see how quickly Maddon turns to the young reliever and how often he’s used before Canning has solved his issues.
Angels back to .500 behind impressive outing from Alex Cobb
The Angels took home their fifth win in six games thanks to what was perhaps the best outing by a Halos starting pitcher this season. Cobb allowed just one earned run over 7.2 innings, striking out six in the process. The Angels are now 41-41 with a chance to sweep the Baltimore Orioles on the Fourth of July.