Tall order awaits Royals at Angels

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Alex Meyer will make the start for the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday against the Kansas City Royals, a 6-foot-9 right-hander with loads of potential but still a work in progress.

His height and 98-mph fastball make him an intimidating presence, but it also makes it difficult for him to lock in his mechanics and allow him to repeat pitches.

There was no better example of that than in his previous start last Monday against the New York Yankees. Meyer showed both why the Angels made a trade for him, and why the Minnesota Twins traded him away.

Against the Yankees, Meyer gave up two runs and five hits, but lasted only 4 2/3 innings because of a high pitch count (93). He walked five but also struck out five.

Two of those five strikeouts came against Yankees sensation Aaron Judge.

"I've seen him in the minor leagues," Judge said. "He's a great guy, electric stuff as well. A fastball with good two-seam action and a wipeout slider. A guy like that you have to focus on location or pick out a pitch and stick to it. He's good, really good."

Meyer will continue to get on-the-job training in the big leagues, as the club's pitching depth has been tested because of injuries. The Angels have used nine different starters this season.

And Meyer keeps teasing the Angels with signs that he can be that dominant power pitcher they believe he can be.

"There are times when it looks like he's on the verge of getting over that hump and finding it, much like a lot of power pitchers," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "You saw the stuff, you saw some swings that were ugly from hitters that are good hitters. And you saw the other side, which is not being able to get back into that zone and make some pitches."

Meyer, who has never faced the Royals, is matched up against Kansas City starter Jake Junis. Like Meyer, Junis found his way into the rotation because of injuries to others, and is trying to find his footing in the major leagues.

He's earned the opportunity by pitching well for Triple-A Omaha, going 2-2 with a 2.34 ERA in seven starts. He has 57 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings.

With Kansas City, Junis is 2-0 with a 4.67 ERA in five games, including three starts. In his starts, he is 1-0 with a 5.28 ERA, the lone victory coming in his last start when he had the best performance of his young major league career.

Last Sunday against the San Diego Padres, Junis gave up three runs and six hits in seven-plus innings, becoming the Royals' first rookie pitcher to go seven-plus since Yordano Ventura in 2014.

"The more time I get up there, the more reps I can get and the more comfortable I can be," Junis told the Kansas City Star.

The Royals will try to claim the series after getting a 3-1 victory in the second game of the four-game series Friday. Ian Kennedy retired the first 17 hitters while Lorenzo Cain hit two solo homers as Kansas City won its sixth straight game.
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