Lefty Hector Santiago was back on the mound on Tuesday as a member of the Los Angeles Angels for the first time in nearly three weeks. His first assignment was a daunting task in the form of the Oakland Athletics, who his team trailed in the AL West by 3.5 games and a team that possessed the league’s best scoring offense.
Santiago had received a call-up back to the majors when pitcher Tyler Skaggs suffered a strained right hamstring that forced him to the 15-day DL. With that in mind, the start read a potential disaster waiting to happen, but instead Santiago made the most of his opportunity to prove that he has bounced back from his early-season pitching struggles. He delivered his best pitching performance of the year as he tossed six scoreless innings that included just three hits allowed with eight strikeouts.
It was a statement game for Santiago as he proved on Tuesday that he can be a reliable pitcher for the Halos at the back of the rotation. Los Angeles will need more pitching performance like that from Santiago moving forward if they hope to catch the A’s for the division, as Skaggs’ injury could linger on and increase the pressure on the other young arms such as Garrett Richards and Matt Shoemaker to shoulder the load.
Santiago will arguably have the biggest role in this as he is essentially taking the spot of Skaggs, who has been one of the Angels’ most reliable pitcher this season. Santiago demonstrated on Tuesday that he can handle the responsibility, and he will need to for the Angels to push for an AL West division crown and the team’s first postseason berth since 2009.