MLB: Angels’ hard-throwing Ben Joyce ready for chance against Astros

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Much of the Los Angeles Angels’ struggles this season can be blamed on an inconsistent and ineffective bullpen, but the club hopes the recent promotion of hard-throwing right-hander Ben Joyce can provide a boost.

Joyce did not pitch in Friday’s 7-1 loss to the Houston Astros, and the two clubs will meet again Saturday night in the second game of a three-game series in Anaheim, Calif.

The Angels’ bullpen has an ERA of 4.82, second highest in the American League this season. Joyce is a candidate to establish himself as a late-innings reliever, considering he throws a four-seam fastball that often hits 100 mph or higher.

Aroldis Chapman holds the record for the fastest pitch recorded in a major league game — 105.8 mph for the Cincinnati Reds in 2010.

While at the University of Tennessee, Joyce had a fastball recorded at 105.5.

Joyce flashed some of that potential last season with the Angels when he hit 104 mph on a pitch, but he also missed three months of the season with an inflamed nerve in his right elbow.

He was a candidate to make the club out of spring training but showed he still had issues maintaining command of his fastball and began the season at Double-A Rocket City, where he went 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 19 innings.

His first outing with the big club this season went well, as he threw a scoreless inning Wednesday in a 3-2 win against the San Diego Padres. Now, it’s a matter of maintaining a sense of consistency.

“I’ve just been trusting my stuff every time I go out there and not getting ahead of myself,” Joyce, 23, said. “Just staying with the pitch that I’m on. And putting my full energy into that one pitch and trying to execute that pitch and then moving on to the next one. I think it’s been a big thing, and my overall confidence has gone up in my stuff. I know that I can get people out, and trust that every time I go out there.”

Angels manager Ron Washington has noticed Joyce’s improvement.

“I certainly loved his arm (in spring training),” Washington said. “He’s a young kid. At the time, he didn’t really know how to use it. But I think there’s now an opportunity to come up and stay in the big leagues. It’ll be up to him.”

Left-hander Tyler Anderson (5-5, 2.37 ERA) will make his 13th start of the season for the Angels on Saturday. He is coming off four consecutive starts in which he allowed just one run in each, covering 26 2/3 innings.

Anderson is 1-2 with a 6.17 ERA in eight career starts against Houston.

Right-hander Hunter Brown (1-5, 6.18 ERA) will make his 13th appearance (12th start) for the Astros. Brown pitched well against the Angels on May 22, giving up two runs and two hits in six innings, but he was tagged with the loss in a 2-1 Los Angeles victory.

Brown has been the Astros’ hard-luck pitcher this season, with just one victory to show for his efforts. He has thrown three consecutive quality starts but went 0-1 with two no-decisions in those games, in large part because the offense totaled just six runs.

“He’s pounding the zone with his fastball,” Astros manager Joe Espada said. “He’s getting ahead in the count. … He’s giving us a chance to win. He’s moving in the right direction each start. He continues to get better. That’s what we want to see out of him.”

Brown is 0-1 with a 5.23 ERA in two career starts against the Angels.

The Astros on Saturday will be without right fielder Kyle Tucker, who is tied for second in the majors with 19 home runs. He was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right shin contusion.

The move was made retroactive to Tuesday. Tucker has not played since fouling a pitch off his right leg in the bottom of the third inning on Monday against the St. Louis Cardinals.

–Field Level Media

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