Angels Select César Valdez


The Angels announced they have selected right-hander César Valdez and placed left-hander José Suarez on the 15-day injured list with a left shoulder strain. To open a spot for Valdez on the 40-man roster, lefty José Quijada was transferred to the 60-day IL. Sam Blum of The Athletic had previously reported that Valdez was on the lineup card and that Suarez was bound for the IL.

Valdez, 38, has had one of the more unique careers in baseball. A soft tosser who’s never averaged more than 89 mph on his fastball, he made his major league debut with the Diamondbacks in 2010 but posted an ERA of 7.65 in nine appearances. He then didn’t make it back to the big leagues for many years, spending time in the minors with the Pirates, Marlins, Blue Jays and Astros in addition to playing in the Mexican League and the Chinese Professional Baseball League.

He returned to the majors in 2017 with the A’s and Jays, tossing 30 2/3 innings with increased use of his changeup. He had thrown it 28.2% of the time in his debut season but ramped that up to 48.2% in 2017, though he finished the year with a 7.63 ERA. He then missed a couple more MLB seasons, pitching in the Mexican League in 2018 and 2019. He returned to the majors in 2020 with the Orioles and cranked his changeup usage all the way to 83.2%, resulting in an ERA of just 1.26 over 14 1/3 innings that year.

Improbably, he became the O’s closer to start the 2021 season, racking up eight saves by the middle of May with a 1.23 ERA. Unfortunately, things took a turn from there as he posted an 8.04 ERA the rest of the way, losing his roster spot as the season was winding down. He signed a minor league deal with the Angels last year and was selected to the roster for a one-game showing in May before getting designated for assignment promptly after. He returned to the Halos on another minor league deal this winter but has a 7.27 ERA through 26 innings for Triple-A Salt Lake.

Yesterday, Suarez departed his start due to shoulder discomfort after pitching just 2 2/3 innings. Chase Silseth came on in relief and ultimately chewed up 3 1/3, tossing 72 pitches in the process. He likely won’t be available for a few days so Valdez has likely been brought up to be on-call if the Halos have some more mop-up innings on the menu.

As for Suarez, it’s still unclear how much time the club is expecting him to miss with this shoulder injury. He’s having a terrible year so far with a 9.62 ERA through six starts, an unfortunate development after he seemed to break out last year. In 109 innings for the Angels in 2022, he registered a 3.96 ERA and seemed to establish himself as a viable starter going forward. He hasn’t carried that into 2023 but it’s difficult to tell right now if the shoulder injury is the culprit. His 92.6 mph average fastball velocity is just a hair down from last year’s 92.7 mph. MLBTR’s Anthony Franco recently explored how the poor start to the season from Suarez was putting the club in an awkward spot since the lefty is out of options, though he’ll now head to the injured list for a while.

The Angels have often had a six-man rotation in recent years as a way of reducing the strain on Shohei Ohtani and the heavy workload that comes from him also hitting on the days when he doesn’t pitch. That has been the case this year, with Ohtani and Suarez joined by Reid Detmers, Patrick Sandoval, Tyler Anderson and Griffin Canning. If they want to continue with the six-man operation going forward, they’ll need someone to replace Suarez. Silseth could potentially move from the bullpen to the rotation, as could Tucker Davidson, as both worked as starters last year. Non-roster options include Jake Kalish, Kenny Rosenberg and Jake Lee.

More to come.

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