May 24, 2024

Griffin Canning delivered a final quality start in his last appearance of the season in the Angels’ 5-0 loss to the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium on Wednesday. But amid another bad season in Angels’ history, Canning’s strong finish holds importance in the fact that prior to this season, he had not pitched since 2021.

“I need to reflect and take some time,” Canning said after the game. “But I’m really proud of myself for, [after] not pitching for a year and a half and to come back and throw 127 innings, I think that’s something I can be really proud of for myself.

“Really thankful for the people I had behind me this whole time and helped me get back to this point.”

Canning finished the 2023 season with a 4.32 earned-run average and a 7-7 record in 24 starts. In evaluating Canning’s season, manager Phil Nevin said that he was pleased with the pitcher for how deep he was able to pitch into games this year. Nevin also declared that, in his eyes, Canning is a fixture in the Angels future rotation.

“The record, he had a lot of [no] decisions, I know we don’t talk a lot about that, but that means he’s pitching deep into games,” Nevin said. “I’m really proud.”

Canning pitched six innings, giving up two runs on five hits, two batters walked and five struck out on Wednesday.

Canning needed to retire one more batter to get out of the top of the sixth inning. The Angels’ starting pitcher had already thrown 109 pitches by that point, walking a batter with pitch no. 109.

Nevin went out to Canning, seemingly to pull him from the game. The PA system at the stadium even started playing the entrance song for reliever Andrew Wantz, who started making his way down the stairs from the bullpen toward the field.

“I hit the top step and I saw where his pitches were and thought that was enough,” Nevin said of that moment. “He saw me get up and I saw his face. I got out there and I knew he wanted it.

“I said, ‘alright, you got one more hitter, you’ve had a heck of a year, finish it strong,’” Nevin recalled.

When Nevin left the mound back to the dugout, Canning remained. Wantz did not realize Canning was staying in the game and started his trot out to the mound, turning around when rookie catcher Logan O’Hoppe waved him to go back.

Canning was determined to get all he could out of his last start of the season, needing just two pitches to help retire his final batter, Mitch Garver, who grounded out to end the inning.

“I’m glad he let me stay in for that last hitter,” Canning said.

In addition to pitching a mostly full season, he also pitched without sustaining any truly season-altering injuries.

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