OAKLAND — It was quite the Major League debut for Angels right-hander Chase Silseth, who was drafted just last year and became the first player from the 2021 Draft class to reach the Majors.
Silseth, an 11th-round selection out of the University of Arizona, allowed just one hit over six innings in a 2-0 win over the A’s on Friday at the Coliseum. He struck out four and walked two before being removed after having thrown 81 pitches. It was a taste of what could come for the Angels, who went 20-for-20 in selecting pitchers in last year’s Draft — including Silseth, who was expected to be selected earlier but signed for over slot at $485,000.
“I’m speechless, I’m still processing everything,” Silseth said. “Heck of a day, heck of a day. It’s a dream to get a phone call or manager telling you that you’re going to the big leagues to start a game. When I was initially told, I was emotional because my uncle died this past fall and the last thing he told me was I was going to make it. So that was for him tonight.”
The 21-year-old, the club’s No. 16 prospect per MLB Pipeline, was called up before the game after excelling at Double-A Rocket City, posting a 1.73 ERA in five starts, including 37 strikeouts in 26 innings. The New Mexico native made some history with his strong outing, becoming just the second player in franchise history to throw at least six innings while allowing one hit or fewer in a Major League debut, joining Rudy May, who threw a one-hitter in his first game against the Tigers on April 18, 1965 (in nine innings).
Angels manager Joe Maddon liked what he saw from the get-go, as Silseth’s first pitch was a 96.8 mph fastball for a strike that set the tone for the rest of the night.
“I loved the first pitch of the game,” Maddon said. “It means it was in control of his emotions and nothing was too quick. He dotted it at 96 mph and he continued to do that.”
Silseth did it with impressive stuff, as his fastball averaged 95.8 and topped out at 98.6 mph. He complemented his four-seamer with a splitter, slider, sinker and curveball. The splitter was his most effective secondary pitch, as he got six swings-and-misses with it.
His stuff was on full display when he registered his first career strikeout in the first inning against Sheldon Neuse. He missed with a first-pitch 98.4 mph fastball but then threw a 96.9 mph four-seamer for a called strike before getting Neuse to foul off an 85.6 mph slider. He finished off Neuse with a devastating 87.8 mph splitter to notch that first K.
“To get it out of the way was awesome,” said Silseth, who had his parents, two sisters, his brother and his grandparents at the game. “But you have to stay in the fight at that point and just keep going, because you’ve still got a whole ballgame.”
It was a sign of things to come from Silseth, who allowed his only hit to Elvis Andrus on a single up the middle in the third. He found himself in a jam that inning after a 11-pitch walk to Tony Kemp, but was helped by left fielder Brandon Marsh. Jed Lowrie hit a fly ball to deep left and Andrus tried to tag up to third base, only to be nabbed at third on a strong throw from Marsh to end the inning.
“That was huge,” Silseth said. “When people are playing good defense behind you, it allows you to be yourself and fill up the zone. The pitch selection in the third inning was maybe too much offspeed early in counts rather than just getting ahead. Trying to throw putaway pitches instead of strike pitches in the third. That was the main difference going from the fourth to the sixth.”
After the third, Silseth settled down, as he retired the last nine batters he faced, including a strikeout of Lowrie to end his outing. Maddon liked the way Silseth competed deep into the game, which allowed for relievers Aaron Loup, Ryan Tepera and Raisel Iglesias to each throw a scoreless inning to preserve the club’s MLB-leading seventh shutout. Despite the strong initial showing, Maddon said it’s too early to announce whether Silseth will get another start just yet.
“Getting through the sixth was big because it set up our bullpen perfectly,” Maddon said. “I believe he can pitch like that often. He’s a strike-thrower with good stuff. Good fastball, really good splitter, nice little slider. So a great first impression.”