After his first start of the year, Tyler Skaggs hit something of a rough patch in which he allowed six runs or more in three of five outings.
Over his last couple outings, though, things have seemingly coalesced for the left-hander, coming to a peak on Wednesday with what might have been his best start of the season.
The top D-backs prospect struck out 10 in 7 2/3 innings, both season highs, allowing two runs -- one earned -- on five hits without issuing any walks. The effort paved the way for a 6-2 win for Triple-A Reno over Round Rock.
"I just felt like I had everything working -- fastball, changeup, curve -- and my catcher Ed Easley was calling a great game," Skaggs said. "By far, it was easily my best start of the year. I didn't feel great in the bullpen [before the game] but got out there, started bearing down and got going."
MLB.com's No. 10 prospect overall has run somewhat hot-and-cold this season. The 21-year-old tossed six shutout innings in his first outing of the year, then allowed nine runs over 2 1/3 frames in his second start.
Skaggs (4-5) followed up back-to-back efforts with at least six innings with two earned runs allowed with back-to-back outings with at least five earned runs surrendered.
Each of his last three starts, however, have been "quality starts" and brought his ERA from 6.89 on May 5 progressively lower to 5.23, where it sat after Wednesday's effort.
"I feel like my mechanics are getting better, hitting that groove, throwing the ball well," Skaggs said, "but I wouldn't say I'm at the peak yet. I've still got things to work out, but I feel pretty good, and the numbers are starting to show that."
The 2009 Angels first-rounder has maintained good peripheral numbers through the first two months of the season, clocking in with 54 strikeouts and just 17 walks in 51 2/3 innings. Last year, Skaggs went 9-6 with a 2.87 ERA between Double-A Mobile and Reno, striking out 116 and walking 37 in 122 1/3 frames.
In a six-start big league audition in Arizona, he clocked in with a 1-3 record and a 5.83 ERA in 29 1/3 innings.
The 10 strikeouts Wednesday were the most for Skaggs since he fanned 10 for the Aces last July 29, but said it wasn't something he had particularly dwelt on.
"I mean I'm not worried about strikeouts. I feel like I should go out there and strike out a lot of people, because that's just me personally wanting to do well," he said. "But I'd rather win the game, go deep in the game, and if I strike people out, it is what it is."
The Aces were led offensively by the D-backs' No. 4 prospect, Matt Davidson, who went 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a run scored. The third baseman is hitting .279/.330/.448 with four homers and 29 RBIs in 42 games this year.
Easley also supplied a three-run homer in the fourth.