Alex Meyer owns the best earned-run average, 4.16, of any Angels starting pitcher this season. His fielding-independent pitching metric also leads the club’s substandard rotation. By some measures, the 6-foot-9 right-hander has been effective.
By others — chiefly his league-high walk rate of more than six per nine innings — he has been an unraveling waiting to happen.
On Tuesday, the Angels opted to avert that. When he arrived at Target Field hours after losing his Monday start here, Meyer was told he had been optioned to triple-A Salt Lake. He quickly packed his bags and departed the stadium.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said the decision reflected “a number” of factors. He named two: the team’s upcoming array of off days that render a five-man rotation unnecessary for several weeks, and Meyer’s need to “work on some things that he’s been able to experience up here in the big leagues.”
Indeed, after three months with the game’s fewest days off, the Angels are about to receive an abundance. Including the All-Star break, they will play games on only 12 of the next 20 days. They won’t play five consecutive games until July 29, and thus won’t need a fifth starter until then.
Meyer, 27, is often referred to as a young player, though by his age most major leaguers are already established. He requires patience as a potential-filled pitcher who lacks commensurate experience at his competition.
The Angels knew that, to some degree, when they acquired him from Minnesota 11 months ago. In public statements since, they have repeatedly emphasized his development.
“He’s come a long way from where he was last year,” Scioscia said. “As much as you think you can influence a player with coaching, experience is the best teacher. You look where he was last year or even where he was in spring training, and there’s a huge jump.
“Hopefully, he’ll take another step forward.”
The Twins gave up on Meyer as a starter because of his control problems, but the Angels remain resistant to move him to the bullpen. Asked on Monday night about Meyer’s soaring walk rate, Scioscia pointed to another statistic for encouragement.
“I don’t think his WHIP is off the charts,” Scioscia said. “He’s not given up a lot of hits. There’s no doubt that [walk] rate is not going to be sustainable if you’re gonna give up one hit an inning also. You’re gonna be in trouble. But one thing that helps Alex is he’s got a high strikeout rate, so he’s able to get outs without moving some runners, without contact.”
Meyer’s 1.46 WHIP ranks 95th among the 127 pitchers who have thrown at least 60 innings this season.
The Angels recalled right-handed reliever Mike Morin from triple-A Salt Lake to take Meyer’s roster spot. …Before making his second start with the club at second base, new utilityman Nick Franklin took ground balls with three Angels coaches. He had played only once at second in the first three months of this season.