The Los Angeles Angels have a battle for the final spot in their rotation. The winner could be a player who appeared to be a building block just three years ago.
Griffin Canning looked as though he would be part of the answer for the Angels rotation in 2020. He had posted a solid 3.99 ERA and a 1.367 WHiP over 56.1 innings, striking out 56 batters with 23 walks. An inflated .307 batting average on balls in play against showed that he could potentially take another step forward as a middle of the rotation arm.
A second chance for Griffin Canning and Los Angeles Angels
That would not be the case. Canning struggled during the 2021 season, eventually being sent down to Triple-A. He was later diagnosed with a stress fracture in his lower back, causing him to miss the rest of the season. Setbacks caused Griffin to miss the 2022 season as well. Patrick Sandoval, Reid Detmers, and Jose Suarez have all passed Canning in the pecking order. Tyler Anderson was signed to a three year deal. Canning was the odd man out.
But he is making up for lost time during spring training. Canning has allowed just one run on six hits and two walks over his 9.2 spring training innings, striking out nine. He is locked in a battle with Jamie Barria and Tucker Davidson for the sixth and final spot in the rotation, hoping to get another chance.
This is a critical year for the Angels. Shohei Ohtani is slated to enter free agency and has been clear that he wants to join a winning organization. The Angels need to contend in 2023 to have a chance to keep him on board. If Canning can return to his 2020 form, he could be a key part in that quest. But first, he needs to claim that spot for himself.
Griffin Canning had appeared to be a future building block for the Los Angeles Angels. He may be able to fulfill that potential this year.