Tyler Skaggs is pitching in the majors.
It isn’t a sentence that he wants to be newsworthy, but it’s a collection of words that he hopes will start a long chapter his professional baseball career.
The proud Santa Monica native is certainly thrilled to have closed the previous chapter — the one that lasted two years, the one that involved taxing physical rehab and intense mental stamina.
Skaggs, who in 2014 underwent Tommy John surgery to repair his injured elbow, was brilliant July 26 in his season debut for the Los Angeles Angels. The left-hander threw seven scoreless innings against the Kansas City Royals, giving up just three hits and one walk while logging five strikeouts in a 13-0 rout.
“Thank you to everyone who reached out to me,” he wrote on Instagram the next day. “I want to thank the people who made yesterday possible.”
Skaggs continued his excellence on the mound July 31 against the Boston Red Sox, striking out eight batters in 5 1/3 innings while yielding just four hits and two walks.
An attempt to reach Skaggs was not successful.
It’s been an arduous journey back to the majors for Skaggs, a former Santa Monica High School star who tore his ulnar collateral ligament 24 months earlier.
“I’ve come a long way in those two years,” he said in an interview with MLB.com. “I’m bigger, stronger, throwing harder. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise.”
The elbow injury threw a wrench into what appeared to be a career on the rise. Drafted 40th overall by the Angels in 2009, the same year he graduated from Samohi, Skaggs played in the minor leagues before being traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010 and making his MLB debut in August 2012.
Skaggs was traded back to the Angels before the 2014 season, when he posted a 5-5 record in 18 starts while recording 86 strikeouts and a 4.30 earned-run average in 113 innings on the hill.
In February, before heading to spring training, Skaggs spent time in Santa Monica to help local police put together a promotional video for an anti-DUI campaign. During breaks in the film shoot, he spoke of the challenges of recovering from surgery and watching baseball while not being able to compete.
“When it happened, I was devastated because you never want to go through an injury,” he said at the time. “I knew how long it would take me to get back.”
And it was still another five months before Skaggs found his way back to an MLB mound, where he blanked the Royals on the road in his season debut last month. It helped that the Angels amassed 22 hits that day.
Five days later, the game against the Red Sox marked Skaggs’ first start at Angel Stadium since undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Apparently, fans hadn’t forgotten about the 25-year-old who got his start in Santa Monica Little League.
“I actually saw some Skaggs jerseys,” he told MLB.com. “That’s a first for me.”