Garneau, 31, will either end up landing elsewhere or back at Sale Lake City. He got on base at a healthy clip over his seven-game showing and was slashing .247/.368/.589 in 87 Triple-A plate appearances before his promotion. He has at times posted strong offensive numbers in the upper minors, but carries only a .198/.282/.321 slash in 302 trips to the dish over five seasons of action at the game’s highest level.
The Angels have reinstated left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney from the injured list, per an official club announcement. Heaney will start Sunday’s game against the Rangers in his season debut. To make room for Heaney on the active roster, right-hander Jaime Barria has been optioned to Triple-A.
The 27-year-old Heaney is prepared to make his 2019 season debut, which couldn’t come sooner for the struggling Angels—the team’s own starting pitching has perhaps been the most substantial impediment to the Halos’ postseason aspirations. On Sunday, though, the club will welcome back Heaney, who enjoyed a breakout 2018, which marked the first time in his Major League career that the injury-riddled southpaw was able to make 30 starts in a season.
Last year, Heaney struck out 180 batters in as many innings, leading many to express optimism that he could anchor the 2019 Angels rotation, a development that has been years in the making due to Heaney’s injury-marred past, which included a Tommy John surgery that cost him most of the 2016 and 2017 seasons. For that reason, the elbow issues that landed him on the IL to open this season were that much more troubling. However, Heaney has served his time and is in position to provide a considerable boost to an Angels team that has endured more than its fair share of health-related misfortune.
Barria, who will go the minors, has kicked in 14 1/3 innings for the Halos, mostly coming out of the bullpen. Following a rookie season in which he posted a 3.41 ERA in 26 starts, Barria has worked out of a long-relief role this year, though he has gotten work as a starter in Triple-A Salt Lake, where he has a 6.58 ERA in 5 games.
The Angels announced today that starter Tyler Skaggs is headed to the 10-day injured list. He’s dealing with a left ankle sprain incurred in his last outing, as MLB.com’s Maria Torres was among those to cover via Twitter.
Fortunately, the outlook seems to be quite positive for Skaggs. His hope is to return to action in short order. It seems reasonable to presume that he’ll be able to keep his arm in condition for whatever time he is down, so a return to action ought to be in sight once the ankle progresses.
That’s about the least worrying possible explanation for the velocity dip that Skaggs showed late in his last start. His problematic arm injury history isn’t implicated. The Halos will hope that Skaggs can use the down time both to rest up a bit and figure out how to tamp down on the long balls that have thus far marred his season.
Skaggs has shown some promising and some worrying signs thus far. Through 15 innings over three starts, Skaggs carries a promising combination of 8.4 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9. But he has already allowed four balls to leave the yard. The 27-year-old is exhibiting reduced velocity thus far, which perhaps has been part of the impetus for his shift away from the heater in favor of his curve and change.
Despite the uncertainty, there’s no doubting Skaggs’s importance to the Halos — particularly with Andrew Heaney also on the sideline at the moment. The void in the rotation will be filled by Jaime Barria, who’s joined by fellow righty John Curtiss in ascending to the active MLB roster. Infielder Taylor Ward was optioned to open the other needed roster spot for those promotions.
The Angels announced Tuesday that they’ve released left-handed reliever Dan Jennings. He’d been in camp on a minor league pact in hopes of earning a roster spot but will instead head back out onto the open market. The Halos also optioned righty Jaime Barria to Triple-A Salt Lake.
Jennings, 31, had a rough spring but has a lengthy track record as a quality left-handed bullpen option. He spent the 2018 season with the Brewers and worked to a 3.22 ERA with 45 strikeouts against 23 walks through 64 1/3 innings of work, holding opposing left-handed batters to a .226/.266/.304 batting line along the way.
It’s at least something of a surprise that Jennings has had difficulty latching onto a big league roster spot given the success he’s had; in his seven-year career, he’s never turned in an ERA of 4.00 or higher. He’s pitched to a combined 2.96 ERA with a 272-to-150 K/BB ratio through 344 1/3 innings in the Majors. His release is further surprising given that he was viewed as a candidate to open the season as the only lefty option in the Angels’ bullpen. The Halos don’t have a lefty reliever on the 40-man roster, nor do they have any experienced non-roster invitees still in camp, so perhaps there’s a move for a lefty still on the horizon.
As for Barria, he’d been in line to round out the Halos’ rotation behind Matt Harvey, Trevor Cahill, Tyler Skaggs and Felix Pena. Instead, it seems that role will now go to newly acquired right-hander Chris Stratton, whom the Angels picked up in a Tuesday-morning trade with the Giants. Barria, 22, made his big league debut last season and ultimately tallied 129 1/3 innings of 3.41 ERA ball with averages of 6.8 strikeouts, 3.3 walks and 1.2 home runs per nine innings pitched. Rather than look to continue that success, he’ll get some early work in Salt Lake.
Pena could also find himself bound for Triple-A once Andrew Heaney is able to come off the disabled list, although given the barrage of injuries that has beset the Angels’ pitching staff in recent seasons, it seems a fair bet that each of the aforementioned names will make some starts at the MLB level in 2019.
Barria, 21, entered the season rated by ESPN’s Keith Law as the game’s No. 62 overall prospect (subscription link). The Panamanian-born righty is already on the Angels’ 40-man roster, so the team will only need to make a 25-man roster move to bring him up to the big leagues.
It’s been a quick rise through the minors for Barria, who opened the 2017 season in Class-A Advanced but ascended to Triple-A and finished out the year with a combined 2.80 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 through 141 2/3 innings. The 6’1″, 210-pound righty has been an extreme fly-ball pitcher in his minor league tenure, with last year’s fly-ball rates ranging from 48.1 percent in Class-A Advanced (65 1/3 innings) to 58.5 percent in Triple-A (14 2/3 innings). Law’s report describes Barria as a three-pitch, command-and-control oriented starter who lacks a true plus pitch but comes with a high floor as a fourth starter (with the potential to develop into more).
Barria’s promotion was largely necessitated by injuries to Angels starters Andrew Heaney, Matt Shoemaker and J.C. Ramirez. The start likely would’ve gone to Parker Bridwell, though he needs to spend at least 10 days in the minors after being optioned on the heels of his April 6 start for the Halos. As for Heaney (who is nearing a return) and Nick Tropeano, Fletcher tweets that that duo could be in line to start on Thursday and Friday for the Angels.
It’s not clear if he’ll remain in the big leagues beyond his initial start, though it seems likely that the Halos will option Barria back to the minors at some point. If Barria were to stick in the Majors for good beyond Wednesday’s promotion, he’d accrue just enough service time to qualify for free agency following the 2023 season. A bit more additional minor league time, however, would delay his path to free agency until the end of the 2024 campaign.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.