ANAHEIM, Calif. — After two years of riding the shuttle between Anaheim and Salt Lake City, right-hander Nick Tropeano will get the chance to establish himself in the Los Angeles Angels' rotation during the second half of the season. After nearly two years of inactivity, right-hander A.J. Griffin hopes to do the same with the Texas Rangers.
Griffin and Tropeano will face each other when the Angels and the Rangers begin their three-game series Monday night at Angel Stadium.
Tropeano is in his second stint this season with the Angels, who acquired him and catcher Carlos Perez from the Houston Astros for catcher Hank Conger in November 2014. Los Angeles recalled Tropeano from Triple-A Salt Lake when left-hander Andrew Heaney severely injured the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow during his first start this season.
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Tropeano responded by winning three of five decisions and by compiling the best earned-run average by any starter in the injury-riddled rotation, 3.25, before a tight right shoulder placed him on the disabled list June 4. Activated on June 24, the Angels sent him back to Salt Lake.
“I don't think anyone who is optioned down is pleased,” Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia told MLB.com at the time. “Nick's a competitor, and he wants to come up here and wants to make footprints in the big leagues. We all feel he will.”
But the Angels recalled Tropeano on July 3 to replace Jhoulys Chacin in the rotation. In two starts since, the right-hander has permitted just three runs, nine hits and two walks in 11 innings while striking out 12 and lowering his ERA for the season to 3.12.
Tropeano made 23 starts last year for both Salt Lake and Los Angeles, with the bulk of them coming for the minor league Bees. In four stints with the Angels, Tropeano went 3-2 with a 3.82 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings.
Griffin, meanwhile, won three of four decisions this year following his recovery from Tommy John surgery in April 2014. Before the surgery, Griffin went 14-10 for the Oakland Athletics in 2013. Afterward, the right-hander threw just 14 1/3 total innings in four combined starts for Class A Stockton and Triple-A Nashville in the Athletics' system. After Oakland released him, the Rangers signed Griffin as a free agent during the offseason.
In his first four appearances, Griffin went 3-0 while recording five quality starts in his first five games this year. Through May, opponents were batting only .212 against him. But after allowing three runs, three walks and four hits in 2 2/3 innings May 7 against the Detroit Tigers, Griffin went on the disabled list because of a stiff right shoulder.
Since being activated June 25, Griffin bears little resemblance to the pitcher who started the season. The right-hander has yet to surpass five innings in any of his four starts, and allowed 11 earned runs and 22 hits in 18 1/3 innings. Griffin's last start was his worst of the year and accounted for his only loss. In a 15-5 rout by the Minnesota Twins on July 10, Griffin gave up six runs on nine hits in five innings while throwing 94 pitches.
Griffin's performance since returning from the disabled list, combined with the presence of starters Derek Holland and Colby Lewis on the 60-day list, provide motivation for general manager Jon Daniels to reinforce the Rangers' rotation before the Aug. 1 trading deadline.
“We're focused on the pitching side,” Daniels told MLB.com. “We want to do what makes sense for the team.”