KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It has been nearly two years since Tyler Skaggs started a major league game for the Los Angeles Angels.
Skaggs, who starts Tuesday against the Kansas City Royals, last appeared on a major league mound on July 31, 2014 at Baltimore.
Skaggs underwent season-ending left elbow surgery after that and then had a setback this season with shoulder tendinitis.
His two phenomenal recent starts with Triple-A Salt Lake earned Skaggs a promotion to the majors. He went 2-0, allowing two hits in 12 2/3 innings, while striking out 26 and walking three in winning at Omaha and Iowa. The 14 strikeouts against Omaha equaled a Bees record for a game, held by Jered Weaver.
“It feels good to be back up here,” Skaggs said. “My teammates gave me a lot of love when I came back. I'm excited about tomorrow. I know I'm going to be nervous, very nervous. At the same time, I'm going to tell myself I've been here before. I've pitched in this stadium before, the (2012) Future's Game. Just take it slow out there, deep breaths.”
Skaggs went 3-2 with a 1.60 ERA in nine starts with three different minor league clubs. He allowed 26 hits and struck out 53 in 39 1/3 innings.
“It's a big game for me,” Skaggs said. “I've put in a lot of hard work to get here. The work is not done. I don't want to just be here. I want to stay here.”
Skaggs, who turned 25 on July 13, was 5-5 with a 4.30 ERA in 18 starts in 2014 with the Angels before the Tommy John surgery.
“I've been through so much the past few years; I'm going to take it day-by-day. There's nothing much I could do about it. You've got to trust the process. Don't get me wrong. I was excited, but I think it was a good experience for me and a humbling experience to go down to Triple-A to kind of figure things out.
“I wouldn't say I'm a different pitcher. I would say I'm bigger and stronger. I've had a lot of time to refine my mechanics and learn more about myself than anything. How my body moves. What I need to do to get ready. My whole pregame routine is more at-depth now. I feel like I'm a whole lot more athletic on the mound than I used to be.”
“I've done a lot of things mechanically to correct myself. I went back to my old mechanics of going over my head. I looked at some spring training video and I wasn't doing that. I went back to going back to old school. It's helped me a lot. I've always thrown like that since I was 12.”
The Royals will counter with Dillon Gee, who will be making his first start since July 10. He pitched 5 1/3 innings in relief on July against Cleveland, allowing three runs.
The Royals could wind up sellers instead of buyers at the trading deadline. They are 6-14 in July and are quickly fading out of postseason contention.
“I don't really worry about it right now,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “That's not on my mind. My mind is on the Angels.”