HomeMLB RumorsRobert Stephenson Aiming For Late-April Activation From 15-Day IL

Robert Stephenson Aiming For Late-April Activation From 15-Day IL

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Robert Stephenson’s tenure with the Angels got off to an unwelcome start when the reliever had to start the season on the 15-day injured list due to right shoulder inflammation.  The righty provided MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger with an update, saying that his hope is to be available before April is over, though he’ll first need to complete a rehab assignment.

The shoulder soreness first arose before the Angels’ spring camp even opened, and as a result, Stephenson wasn’t able to pitch at all in the Cactus League.  Stephenson will therefore need some extra ramp-up time to try and simulate the Spring Training experience, though he has already started to pick up his throwing progressions.  The right-hander had his first bullpen session on Thursday and another is planned for Monday.

Los Angeles signed Stephenson to a three-year, $33MM free agent deal in January, as the 31-year-old was handsomely rewarded for a major in-season turnaround.  With a penchant for inconsistency both as a starter and then after he became a full-time reliever in 2019, Stephenson had a 5.14 ERA in 14 innings for the Pirates before the Bucs dealt him to Tampa in a somewhat under-the-radar deal.  Stephenson then became the latest in the Rays’ long line of pitching reclamation projects, as he broke out with a 2.35 ERA, eight percent walk rate, and a fantastic 38.3% strikeout rate over 38 1/3 innings in a Tampa Bay uniform.

While the shoulder injury isn’t the best start to a $33MM deal, the Angels are betting that Stephenson can keep the magic going to become a lockdown member of their bullpen.  The Halos invested heavily in their relief corps (and not much else) this winter, adding Stephenson, Matt Moore, Luis Garcia, Adam Cimber, and Jose Cisnero as part of an extensive bullpen overhaul.

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