Skaggs, Angels eye sweep of Royals

Field Level Media

Tyler Skaggs will take the mound for the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday afternoon in the series finale against the Kansas City Royals, and it's fair to say that as of now, he's the club's ace.

After all, he's the only starter on the staff with a winning record (4-3) among those with at least five starts, and he has the best ERA of the group, as well. The problem is, on the Angels' staff, that isn't saying much.

His ERA is 5.05, and he's been plagued -- like so many others in the Angels' rotation -- by a high pitch count. That has meant he hasn't been able to pitch deep into games, taxing the bullpen. Skaggs has lasted at least six innings only twice in his seven starts, averaging five innings and 92 pitches per start.

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Despite giving up four runs in five innings in his last start last Monday at Minnesota, Skaggs got a victory, a credit to the club's offense and bullpen. And it's not lost on Skaggs.

"Luckily, our offense and our bullpen is our strength right now," Skaggs told reporters. "I think as a starting staff, we need to pick it up, and we're going to."

Skaggs had one of his better outings of the season against Kansas City on April 26, throwing five scoreless innings while giving up just three hits. In his career, Skaggs has been very stingy against the Royals, giving up just one earned run in 27 innings, going 2-1 with a 0.35 ERA in four starts.

Skaggs will be opposed by Royals left-hander Danny Duffy (2-1, 3.97 ERA), who is trying to stay healthy enough to put together a good season. His campaign was cut short last year by injury, and he began this season in the injured list because of a sore left shoulder.

But it wasn't for a lack of preparation, as Duffy said he worked this offseason differently than in previous years.

"I've worked hard like this before, but never as smart as I have this year," Duffy told MLB.com heading into spring training. "I know I haven't maxed out or anything. I know talk is cheap. I'm just being honest. I think I'm ready to really have a big year. I can't predict the future, but I'm learning as I go. I had a pretty rough last couple of years, but I have a good grasp of what I can offer."

The Royals' Opening Day starter in both 2017 and '18, Duffy has won each of his last two starts (over Houston and Texas), but lost his start against the Angels in his season debut on April 26, when he allowed three runs in five innings.

Overall against the Angels, Duffy is 2-2 with a 4.25 ERA in seven games (six starts).

Mike Trout has hit Duffy well, going 7-for-18 with a home run and double, but Duffy has kept Albert Pujols in check, holding the slugger to three hits in 19 at-bats.

With their 6-3 win on Saturday -- in which Trout mashed his 250th career homer and Shohei Ohtani also went yard -- the Angels will look to complete the sweep Sunday against the Royals, who have lost four in a row and six of seven.

--Field Level Media

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