The Angels are close to welcoming back a pair of starting pitchers, as Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic was among those to cover (Twitter links here). Matt Harvey is slated to rejoin the rotation out of the All-Star break, while JC Ramirez appears to be nearing activation as well after a typically lengthy Tommy John rehab process. Meanwhile, reliever and fellow Tommy John patient Keynan Middleton began a rehab assignment Friday.
Harvey went to the injured list with an upper back strain May 25 and then suffered a setback June 10, continuing a nightmarish season. The Angels took a one-year, $11MM flier on Harvey in free agency, but the decision has emphatically gone against the team thus far. Once an ace with the Mets, Harvey joined the Angels after finishing 2018 in respectable fashion with the Reds. In his first two months as an Angel, though, the 30-year-old performed like one of the majors’ worst starters, notching a 7.50 ERA/6.11 FIP with 6.56 K/9 against 3.94 BB/9 across 48 frames.
Ramirez, also 30, hasn’t taken the mound for the Angels since going under the knife last April. The righty managed effective results in 142 1/3 innings as a starter for the Angels in 2017, when he put up a 4.11 ERA (with a 4.67 FIP), 6.45 K/9, 2.97 BB/9 and a 51.4 percent groundball rate. A 95.5 mph fastball helped Ramirez achieve that success, though Triple-A Salt Lake broadcaster Steve Klauke tweeted last week that the hurler’s velocity has been far less imposing during his rehab work. That was again the case Friday, per Klauke, who reports Ramirez hovered around 88 to 92 mph while tossing six innings of three-run ball.
Sadly for the Angels, the upcoming returns of Harvey and Ramirez have taken on added importance in light of starter Tyler Skaggs’ passing this week. At 45-44 and 4 1/2 games out of playoff position, the club has an outside chance at earning a wild-card spot. But the Angels will need more from a starting staff which is trying its best to carry on under terrible circumstances. None of the Angels’ current options have posted exemplary production to this point, though there’s plenty of promise in the form of Andrew Heaney and the young tandem of Griffin Canning and Jose Suarez.
Angels starters have handed off to a bullpen which has received quality late-game production from Ty Buttrey, Hansel Robles and Cam Bedrosian. When Middleton comes back, the 25-year-old will add another high-octane arm to the group. With help from a 96 mph heater, the right-handed Middleton logged a 3.43 ERA/4.24 FIP with 9.36 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 76 innings from 2017-18. He underwent surgery last May.