Daniel shows his stuff, battles command woes

September 23rd, 2023

MINNEAPOLIS -- Through his first two career outings, rookie right-hander has shown some promise, but he knows he’ll need to cut down on his walk total to have success in the Majors going forward.

Daniel pitched his way around three walks to throw three scoreless innings in his debut against the Guardians on Sept. 7, but he wasn’t as fortunate against the Twins on Friday night. Daniel walked five batters over 4 1/3 innings and gave up three runs in an 8-6 loss in the series opener at Target Field. Daniel, who struck out six, has posted a 3.68 ERA through his first two outings despite walking eight batters in 7 1/3 frames.

“It’s never really been an issue in the past, but these last two outings, there’s been a little more,” Daniel said. “I think I've just tried to be a little too fine instead of trusting myself and going at these guys. It’s the same game, it’s still hard to hit a baseball. So I’ve just got to get back to that mindset of staying on the attack with strike one and being on the offensive.”

The Angels initially announced they were going to call up Daniel to start Friday’s game, only to then use lefty José Suarez ahead of Daniel as an opener. Daniel entered in a precarious situation to start his outing, as he was brought in to face the left-handed-hitting Alex Kirilloff with two outs and the bases loaded in the second inning. Daniel was able to get Kirilloff to pop out to third in foul territory to escape the jam.

Daniel then threw a 1-2-3 third inning before things started to unravel for him in the fourth. He walked four batters in the inning and allowed two runs. He walked in a run and allowed another on a sacrifice fly by Kirilloff before striking out Ryan Jeffers to get out of another bases-loaded predicament.

“I think I just kind of fell out of rhythm,” Daniel said. “The control got away from me a little bit. I got a little too fine with the guy on third. So we made some adjustments on the setup and being more on the plate. I felt like my stuff was pretty good, but it just got away from me for an inning.”

The Angels came back to tie it with a three-run fifth inning keyed by a two-run homer from Jared Walsh and an RBI single from Nolan Schanuel off right-hander Pablo López. It extended Schanuel’s on-base streak to 25 games to open his career, which is the seventh longest such streak in MLB history. He passed Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, who reached in 24 consecutives games to open his career with Tampa Bay in 2003.

“López doesn’t really walk guys, so we knew Nolan was going to have to work for it to keep this thing going,” manager Phil Nevin said. “It’s really, really impressive what he’s doing.”

Daniel pitched around another walk in the fifth to get through a scoreless frame, only to surrender the go-ahead run on a solo homer by Kirilloff with two outs in the sixth. It came on a 1-1 fastball on the inner part of the zone and ultimately handed Daniel the loss. But Nevin was still mostly encouraged by what he saw.

“I like the stuff,” Nevin said. “He’s been competitive every time out. He just lost his command a little bit there in the fourth.”

Daniel, a sixth-round pick out of Clemson in 2019, was added to the 40-man roster last season and was expected to add depth this year until he suffered a strained right shoulder in Spring Training that kept him out of action until Aug. 1. Davis, though, pitched well in his return to the Minors, earning his second career call-up to the Majors in early September after he was brought up last year in June, only to not see any game action.

Davis, 26, is trying to make the most out of his opportunity. He was one of several Angels youngsters who soaked it all in while watching the Twins celebrate clinching the AL Central on the field after the game.

“Obviously, you want to be doing that at some point in your career,” Davis said. “A lot of hard work and stuff goes into that. So hopefully, we'll be there soon.”