With each start, Nick Tropeano makes it harder and harder to fathom how he began the 2016 season in the minors. The right-hander tossed his second straight gem Monday, holding the Rangers to just four hits in 6⅔ innings, and now boasts eight starts this season (out of nine total) of three runs allowed or fewer. He’s easily been the Angels’ most reliable starter this year.
Pitch efficiency was the one hurdle Tropeano had left entering last week, and he’s seemingly dealt with it. After averaging about 19 pitches per inning in his first seven starts, which caused him to never quite finish the sixth inning, he’s now averaged 15 per frame in his last two. That might not seem like a big improvement at first glance, but it’s the difference between entering the sixth at 95 pitches or 75 pitches, which is massive. If he can keep it up, the sky’s the limit.
Run Expectancy Rundown
Albert Pujols provided all the offense the Angels needed Monday, launching his 569th career home run into the left-field bleachers in the third. The dinger moved him into a tie with Rafael Palmeiro for 12th on the all-time list, and pushed his SLG over .400 for the first time this season. Mike Trout notched another two-hit game and now leads the league in OBP (.413). Johnny Giavotella also had two knocks, extending his hit streak to 12 games.
Mitch Moreland had a real tough day at the office. He came up with the tying and/or go-ahead runs on base in the first, fourth, and eighth but came away with nothing to show for it. He left seven runners on in all, four in scoring position.
Starting Pitcher Scores
That’s two quality starts in a row for Tropeano. It’s like someone came up to him a week ago and said “You know it’s OK to pitch through the sixth inning, right?” and his mind was blown. His 2.86 ERA is now the best in the Angels rotation.
Derek Holland was nearly as good as his counterpart but for one pitch left out over the plate to Pujols. The lefty was especially good after the third inning, retiring 12 of the final 15 batters he faced.
Fernando Salas and Joe Smith made things interesting in the eighth and ninth, but both somehow escaped with the lead (and shutout) intact. Salas was especially fortunate, needing a diving catch and a ricochet to get out of a bases-loaded jam.
The Rangers had ample chances to get back into the game, but the Angels held them at bay.
Since his blowup start in Milwaukee at the start of the month, Tropeano owns a 2.25 ERA and 3:1 K/BB ratio in 24 innings.