Autopsy reveals cause of death for Skaggs

August 31st, 2019

ANAHEIM -- Angels pitcher had a combination of alcohol and opioids in his system at the time of his death, which was ruled accidental, according to a toxicology report released Friday by the Tarrant County medical examiner's office.

Skaggs was found dead at age 27 in his hotel room in Southlake, Texas, on July 1, the day the Angels were to begin a three-game series against the Rangers in Arlington. That day's game was postponed as a result.

The report released by Tarrant County found that Skaggs had the painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, as well as alcohol, and that his death was caused by "terminal aspiration of gastric contents."

"I can just say that we were saddened by that report when it came out and completely heartbroken,” general manager Billy Eppler said. “Everyone is searching for facts. Everyone in the organization wants facts, which is why we are actively cooperating with an investigation. I think it goes without saying I can't comment more on the investigation until the police conclude their investigation. But what I can say is that it is hard to find the words just how difficult the last couple months have been on everybody in his organization.”

Manager Brad Ausmus said the report reopened old wounds for the Angels, but that it doesn’t change the way they view Skaggs. Both Ausmus and Eppler addressed the team before Friday’s game against the Red Sox. The clubhouse was closed to reporters before the game.

“I was surprised by it because I had no prior notice,” Ausmus said. “Frankly, for me and the guys in the clubhouse, it doesn’t really change anything. We lost a teammate, lost a friend. We miss him.”

Left-hander Andrew Heaney, Skaggs' best friend on the team, echoed Ausmus' comments when addressing the media after the Angels' 7-6 loss in 15 innings on Friday.

"It really didn’t change much," Heaney said. "He’s no longer with us. That’s what hurts the most. The circumstances don’t change how I feel about him. It doesn’t change how everyone here was treated by him and how much they loved him. It doesn’t change a thing."

Skaggs' family has hired attorney Rusty Hardin and released a statement about the findings of the toxicology report:

"We are heartbroken to learn that the passing of our beloved Tyler was the result of a combination of dangerous drugs and alcohol. That is completely out of character for someone who worked so hard to become a Major League Baseball player and had a very promising future in the game he loved so much.

"We are grateful for the work of the detectives in the Southlake Police Department and their ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding Tyler's death. We were shocked to learn that it may involve an employee of the Los Angeles Angels. We will not rest until we learn the truth about how Tyler came into possession of these narcotics, including who supplied them. To that end, we have hired attorney Rusty Hardin to assist us."

Eppler said he couldn’t comment on the allegation that an Angels employee might’ve been involved.

“I apologize, but I cannot comment on that because of the ongoing nature of the investigation, because it would compromise the investigation and the jobs that people have to do,” Eppler said.

Skaggs pitched seven seasons in the Majors, including five with the Angels, posting a career 4.41 ERA in 520 2/3 innings. He missed the 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Skaggs posted a 4.29 ERA in 15 starts this season, spending one short stint on the disabled list with a sprained left ankle in mid-April.