10:10am: Canning spoke with reporters about his injury and took a positive tone, suggesting that he feels the injury is little more than “normal wear and tear” and likening the issue to one that sidelined him last August (Twitter thread via Fletcher). The MRI did not reveal any tearing of the ulnar collateral ligament. Still, the “chronic changes” referenced by the team will be the subject of further testing.
February 28, 8:45am: The Angels announced that Canning’s MRI revealed “chronic changes to the UCL and acute joint irritation” in his right elbow. No immediate treatment or timetable was provided, as the organization has scheduled further tests and evaluation over the “next couple days.”
February 27: In an all-too-familiar bit of ominous news for Angels fans, manager Joe Maddon revealed today that right-hander Griffin Canning is headed for an MRI to examine his right elbow (Twitter link via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register). Canning felt something abnormal during yesterday’s Cactus League outing, per Maddon, who acknowledged some organizational concern regarding the injury.
The Angels’ pitching staff has been decimated by injury in recent seasons, and that litany of pitcher injuries only makes the Canning scenario feel all the more foreboding. Canning, after all, is one of the club’s most promising young arms and has been expected to play a key role on the 2020 staff. The 23-year-old was a second-round pick out of UCLA back in 2017 and entered the 2019 campaign as a consensus top 100 prospect in the game. Canning parlayed a trio of dominant Triple-A starts into his first call to the Majors, going on to toss 90 1/3 frames with a 4.58 ERA (4.37 FIP), 9.6 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and 1.39 HR/9. He was slowed by inflammation in his right elbow along the way, however.
The Halos entered the offseason with their sights set on adding a top-end talent to the rotation but instead signed Anthony Rendon to bolster the lineup and defense after missing out on Gerrit Cole. Anaheim did sign free agent righty Julio Teheran and acquire right-hander Dylan Bundy from the Orioles with the goal of adding that duo to a rotation mix that also included Canning, Andrew Heaney and (in mid-May) a returning Shohei Ohtani.
If Canning misses any time, though, the Angels will be looking at an Opening Day rotation consisting of Heaney, Teheran (assuming his hamstring issue does indeed prove minor) and Bundy, with little certainty beyond that. Patrick Sandoval, Jaime Barria, Dillon Peters and Jose Suarez are all on the 40-man roster and all have some MLB experience, but that’s a highly unproven quartet. Swingman Matt Andriese, acquired from the D-backs, could be stretched out for starting duties during camp as well; he spent the entire ’19 season in the Arizona bullpen but does have 49 starts at the big league level under his belt (all but one coming with the Rays).