It was reported a couple of days ago that Angels starter Griffin Canning has a problem with his UCL, as well as joint irritation. Canning was to undergo a battery of tests to further assess the problem, and was supposed to throw yesterday as part of those tests. Joe Maddon told reporters today that that didn’t happen, and now the Angels are sending Canning for even more tests to determine whether the previously reported joint issue is the real problem. Maddon said that Canning will probably be on the IL on Opening Day.
Not being able to throw is never a good sign for a pitcher, so one way or another this is probably going to end poorly for Canning. The Angels were counting on major contributions from Canning in his sophomore campaign, given the dismal state of the Los Angeles pitching staff last year and the heightened expectations for the coming season.
The Angels added Dylan Bundy, Julio Teheran and Matt Andriese to the mix this winter, and nearly traded for Ross Stripling. That transaction was nixed by owner Arte Moreno due to his frustrations with delays caused by the holdups in the Mookie Betts trade negotiations. Shohei Ohtani is also expected to resume pitching at some point this summer. Canning had a fairly notable pedigree as a prospect, and was hoping to do better than his 4.58 ERA from last season.
Whether Canning will be on the mound at all this year remains to be seen. A joint issue might have a more reasonable rehab timeline than Tommy John surgery, but it’s difficult to speculate without knowing specifics.
The injury underscores the Angels’ long-running pitching woes, and calls attention to the fact that they have again walked away from free agency without an impact starting pitcher. The team deserves credit for the Anthony Rendon signing and the addition of useful arms like Bundy and Teheran. But Mike Trout has only appeared in three playoff games, and the pitching staff didn’t exactly seem primed to get him back to October even before Canning’s woes began.
Los Angeles does have a much-improved farm system, and has the sort of prospect capital necessary to go get a starter. Major pitching trades at this time of year are almost unheard of, but it may behoove GM Billy Eppler to find a way to get someone like Matthew Boyd fitted for an Angels uniform later this summer.