EARN­ING HIS KEEP

Gott has im­pressed team­mates and shown met­tle in re­lief role

Los Angeles Times - - BASEBALL - By Mike DiGiovanna mike.digiovanna@latimes.com Twit­ter: @MikeDi­Gio­vanna

Two weeks into his big league ca­reer, Trevor Gott has al­ready seized a key sev­enth- in­ning re­lief role for the An­gels, heady stuff for a 22- year- old right- han­der who a month ago was pitch­ing in dou­ble A.

Any nerves or un­cer­tainty Gott feels has been eased by the sooth­ing pres­ence of vet­eran closer Hus­ton Street and setup man Joe Smith, both 31 with a com­bined 19 years of ma­jor league ex­pe­ri­ence.

“They give me all kinds of tips on how to stay calm, how it’s just base­ball and if you make your pitches, you’ll be f ine,” said Gott, who is armed with a 98- mph fast­ball, sharp break­ing ball and changeup. “It’s pretty wild. I watched Hus­ton and Joe grow­ing up, and now I’m in the same bullpen as them.”

Smith ap­pre­ci­ated the com­pli­ment but chafed at the con­text.

“I’m not old enough to make those kinds of com­ments about,” Smith said with some in­credulity. “That shows you more how young he is than how old I am. He’s 22.”

Gott doesn’t act like it, which might im­press Street even more than the ve­loc­ity Gott gen­er­ates from his small­ish 5- foot- 10, 190pound frame.

“What I get ex­cited about with Trevor is his at­ti­tude, be­cause there is a dis­tinct ma­tu­rity there,” said Street, who has 295 ca­reer saves. “And that’s the big­gest com­pli­ment I can give.”

Street and Smith have locked down the ninth and eighth in­nings for the An­gels, save for an oc­ca­sional glitch, but the sev­enth has been a trou­ble spot since Kevin Jepsen was traded to Tampa Bay last win­ter.

Mike Morin was a strong can­di­date out of spring train­ing but strug­gled in April and suf­fered a rib- cage strain in late May. Fer­nando Salas has been er­ratic, Ce­sar Ramos is more of a left- handed spe­cial­ist, and Cam Be­drosian has the big arm but not the con­sis­tency for the role.

Into this void stepped Gott, the for­mer Univer­sity of Ken­tucky closer who was ac­quired with Street from the San Diego Padres last July.

Gott was called up from triple A on June 13, and in six ap­pear­ances he has shown the kind of met­tle Man­ager Mike Scios­cia is look­ing for in a sev­enth- in­ning man. Gott has given up three hits, struck out four and walked none in six score­less in­nings en­ter­ing Fri­day night’s game against the Seat­tle Mariners.

“He has a power arm,” Scios­cia said. “Not only do you see the ve­loc­ity, you see the life on the ball, the nice ac­tion through the zone. It’s go­ing to be in­ter­est­ing to see how it plays out be­cause we think he has a chance to be re­ally spe­cial.”

Gott’s An­gels de­but came in an 8- 1 loss to Oak­land on June 14, but his next f ive ap­pear­ances came in the sev­enth in­ning of close games, in­clud­ing Mon­day night, when he re­tired the side in or­der to hold a 3- 1 lead against Hous­ton, and a onetwo- three out­ing in Wed­nes­day’s 2- 1, 13- in­ning win over the Astros.

Gott has al­ways thrown hard for his age and size, but his fast­ball jumped from the 93- 95- mph range when he was drafted in 2013 to 96- 98 mph last sum­mer.

“I don’t know any spe­cific rea­son why,” Gott said. “I think it’s just grow­ing up, get­ting stronger and gain­ing arm strength.”

Gott has a slight hes­i­ta­tion in his de­liv­ery be­fore ex­plod­ing to­ward the plate and drops his arm slot just a few de­grees.

Both add de­cep­tion to his pitches.

“Peo­ple get ex­cited about ve­loc­ity and stuff, but I’ve seen plenty of guys come up throw­ing 98 mph, and plenty of guys not do any­thing with it,” Street said. “Trevor has some de­cep­tion, which will add to his game. The great ones have great stuff, great de­cep­tion and a great men­tal ap­proach. He’s al­ready pitched in some big spots and has han­dled them well.”

Smith likes the way Gott is at­tack­ing hit­ters.

“He doesn’t look in­tim­i­dated at all,” Smith said. “When a young guy comes up and says, ‘ Here it is, hit it,’ he’ll f ind out right off the bat who can hit him and who can’t.”

Gott clearly has the stuff to suc­ceed in the big leagues. How he han­dles fail­ure could de­ter­mine how long he stays here.

“You’re go­ing to hit a rough patch, guys are go­ing to fig­ure you out, you’re go­ing to lose your slider, you’re go­ing to get un­lucky,” Street said. “It’s that at­ti­tude that makes you stick and what al­lows you to im­prove over time. I think Trevor has a solid at­ti­tude, a hum­ble ap­proach — he wants to get bet­ter.

“The gift in the arm is ob­vi­ously there … but I don’t want him to get too ex­cited about be­ing in the big leagues. I want him to take that one- day- at- a- time ap­proach, play for to­day, and if he can do that, he has all the mak­ings to be a very suc­cess­ful big lea­guer for a long time.” Up next

Right- han­der Matt Shoe­maker ( 4- 5, 5.20 ERA) will op­pose Seat­tle right- han­der Tai­juan Walker ( 5- 6, 4.94) at An­gel Sta­dium on Fri­day at 7 p. m. TV: FS West; Ra­dio: 830.

Joe Scarnici Getty I mages

TREVOR GOTT, 22, has given up three hits, struck out four and walked none in six score­less in­nings and has shown ma­tu­rity.

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