With their top two starters from last season currently sidelined with injuries, the Angels might need the right-hander more than they initially expected.
Garland looks to build on a strong debut as he makes his first home start with the Angels in the finale of a three-game series against the AL West rival Texas Rangers on Sunday.
Los Angeles acquired Garland from the Chicago White Sox in November in exchange for Gold Glove shortstop Orlando Cabrera. The move gave the Angels three former 18-game winners at the top of their rotation in Garland, John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar.
Lackey and Escobar, however, both started the season on the disabled list. Lackey is expected to miss at least a month with a right triceps strain, while Escobar could miss the entire season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Garland, a Southern California native who has two 18-win seasons under his belt, is expected to fill at least part of the void left by that duo, which combined to win 37 games last season.
Garland (1-0, 1.13 ERA) got off to a good start in his first outing Tuesday, holding Minnesota to one run and six hits in eight innings as Los Angeles (4-2) won 9-1.
“That’s one of the better starts you can have,” Garland told the team’s official Web site.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia was just as impressed.
“I thought he maintained his stuff well,” Scioscia said. “I’m sure there are going to be games where he’ll be strong enough to finish.”
Scioscia was also encouraged on Saturday night, when starter Jered Weaver held Texas (2-3) to three hits in seven scoreless innings in the 2-1 Los Angeles win.
Garland could struggle to match that kind of performance against the Rangers. He’s just 4-7 with a 5.50 ERA in 17 career games - 16 starts - against them.
Garland, however, could get help from the Los Angeles bullpen, which has welcomed back setup man Scot Shields from the 15-day DL. Shields’ spring training was cut short because of discomfort in his shoulder and tightness in his forearm, but he felt fine after a minor-league rehab appearance Thursday.
“I was hoping I wouldn’t have to spend any time on the DL,” said Shields, who has pitched 361 2-3 innings over the previous four seasons, the most by any reliever in the majors. “But any time you have a problem, it’s nothing you want to mess around with. I’m just fortunate to be back this early.”
The Rangers had their six-game win streak against the Angels snapped with Saturday’s defeat, but they’ll try to get back on track as they send Vicente Padilla (0-0, 1.50) to the mound.
The right-hander held Seattle to one run in six innings of his first start - a 5-4 Texas victory on Tuesday. Padilla, who was 6-10 with a 5.76 ERA in 23 starts in 2007, is 3-2 with a 5.11 ERA in nine career games - eight starts - against the Angels.
Los Angeles outfielder Vladimir Guerrero, a career .411 hitter against Texas, is 16-for-39 (.410) with three home runs in his career against Padilla.