Angels lose Chris Iannetta for 6-8 weeks

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Bad news for the Halos: catcher Chris Iannetta needs wrist surgery and will miss 6-8 weeks, Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times reports.

Iannetta was injured while catching Jered Weaver in the no-hitter against the Twins on May 2 and didn’t start for three days afterwards. Since returning to the lineup, he’d gone 0-for-7 with a couple of walks, dropping his average from .220 to .197 and his OPS from .764 to .706.

The injury is really poorly timed for the Angels. Hank Conger, who would be the obvious choice to be called up to the majors and start in Iannetta’s place, is on the DL at Triple-A Salt Lake due to a sprained elbow. He was hitting .357/.390/.554 in 56 at-bats before getting hurt.

Until Conger is ready, the Angels will have to get by with Bobby Wilson and either Robinzon Diaz or John Hester behind the plate. Wilson has hit .222/.300/.222 in 27 at-bats as Iannetta’s backup this season. Diaz and Hester are minor league veterans without much in the way of offensive ability.

Meanwhile, Jeff Mathis, maybe the game’s worst hitter in his last couple of years as the Angels’ part-time catcher, has somehow managed to post a 1.050 OPS in his 20 at-bats with the Blue Jays thus far. Mike Scioscia is probably wishing he was still around right now.

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

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It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.