ANAHEIM -- At this rate, left-hander Tyler Skaggs' return to the Angels rotation by August is looking to be more of a certainty than it is a possibility.
Skaggs was brilliant with Triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday night, following back-to-back five-inning outings by tossing seven innings of one-hit, shutout baseball against Omaha. He struck out 14 batters, matching the Triple-A club record of 14, set by Jered Weaver. Skaggs' fastball was reportedly around 92 mph, and his stuff was crisp as he remained pitch-efficient and exited after 84 pitches.
Thursday's performance made an impression on Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who said earlier that day that Skaggs is prominently on the club's radar for a Major League return.
"The reports were as impressive as the stat line," Scioscia said. "Tyler maintained his velocity, he pitched deep into the game and was very pitch-efficient and pitch-effective. He's certainly getting closer to where he can work his way back into our rotation."
The left-hander will make at least one more start with Salt Lake, and he will then be evaluated to see if it's time to bring him up to the big league club.
Skaggs, 25, is 23 months removed from undergoing Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. He hasn't pitched in the Majors since July 31, 2014, and has dealt with a few setbacks in his return. He began the season in Triple-A, making a pair of starts before complaining of discomfort and being shut down. He began a throwing program, including a simulated game on June 8, but was soon shut down again. Because of this history, Scioscia said he wants to make sure Skaggs doesn't have another if he returns to the bigs too soon.
"When Tyler comes back into our rotation, we want to make sure that he's pitching up to his capabilities and all his pitches are working well," Scioscia said. "It'll take as much time as it takes. We're not going to rush him."
The Angels are in need of some consistency in their rotation. Right-hander Tim Lincecum has struggled through his first five starts this season, and others such as Weaver and Hector Santiago have been plagued by inconsistency. Jhoulys Chacin was removed from the rotation and put into the bullpen for Nick Tropeano, who while having the team's best starter ERA has also struggled with going deep into starts. Santiago and right-hander Matt Shoemaker could also be on the trading block as the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline nears.
Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Anaheim. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.