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Peters 'ready to rock' in any pitching role

February 24, 2020

PHOENIX -- With just over a month until Opening Day, the candidates for the Angels’ starting rotation feature an amalgamation of talent jockeying for position. A familiar face to fans is southpaw Dillon Peters, who started Monday versus Milwaukee in the Halos’ second game of the spring. Demonstrating a heavy

PHOENIX -- With just over a month until Opening Day, the candidates for the Angels’ starting rotation feature an amalgamation of talent jockeying for position. A familiar face to fans is southpaw Dillon Peters, who started Monday versus Milwaukee in the Halos’ second game of the spring.

Demonstrating a heavy reliance on his curveball, Peters worked around trouble in the first, circumventing an error made behind him to escape the frame without yielding a run.

He was clicking on all cylinders in his second frame, bookending a pair of strikeouts around a weak groundout. His final line showed just one hit and one walk while he struck out three.

“I worked my tail off this offseason,” Peters said. “Hopefully, it continues to translate. ... I got with the strength coaches and worked an offseason program and followed our throwing program to a 'T.' I just feel strong and ready to rock.”

Peters will have ample competition this spring for spots in both the starting rotation and bullpen. Even though he worked 72 innings for the club last season, new faces in manager Joe Maddon and pitching coach Mickey Callaway will seemingly have a say in the role that Peters plays.

“He’s very competitive,” Maddon said. “He’s competitive with some deception. He could be both [a starter and reliever]. He’s that guy. He falls in that category. The big thing with him as a starter is to create more length out of him. Sometimes guys like that just need the opportunity to pitch past the fifth inning and then you find things out. We’ll see how it all plays out. I like him; [he’s] versatile, he competes, great teammate -- he’s all of that stuff.”

Projecting the Angels' Opening Day roster

Peters’ first seven bulk appearances -- in which he was the primary innings-eater -- last season yielded a 3.52 ERA. But down the stretch, over his final seven starts, he appeared to be a different pitcher, compiling a 7.92 ERA with opponents collecting a 1.048 OPS -- which extrapolates out to facing Mike Trout every at-bat.

With the new rule imposed this season that pitchers must face at least three batters (unless an inning first concludes), Peters’ splits will be something to monitor. Last season, right-handed hitters barreled him for a slash line of .313/.372/.635, while left-handed hitters were held to a .232/.315/.402 mark.

Peters spoke after his first appearance of how he planned to begin mixing in a slider during the spring to give left-handed hitters another look. He threw the slider just 3.9 percent of the time last season.

As for right-handed batters, he recognized the drastic nature of their successes and has a plan for rectifying it.

“[Attack] the top of the zone,” Peters said. “You get a lot of misses up there; it’s kind of a safe spot to go when in doubt. I worked on that quite a bit.”

Regarding his status as something of a swingman, with experience getting outs both as a starter and reliever, Peters seemed at ease slotting into whatever role that the Angels envision for him.

“I’m just going to take the ball whenever they tell me and wherever they tell me to be,” Peters said. “It’s been kind of my M.O. the last couple years, and I just like going out there and competing and playing baseball.”

“You don’t win with five starters,” Maddon said. “You don’t go wire-to-wire with five. It’s at least seven, probably eight, and sometimes more than that that you’re going to need.”

Whether Peters is a part of those five, seven, eight or more starters figures to play out in Arizona over the next month; but after two scoreless frames Monday, he’s off to a strong start.