Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs died Monday in a hotel room several hours before his team was scheduled to play the Texas Rangers, team and local officials said.
Skaggs’s death prompted a quick postponement of the game after lineups had already been announced.
Angels officials declined to comment beyond a statement announcing the death. “Tyler has, and always will be, an important part of the Angels family,” the statement said.
The police in Southlake, Tex., said they had found Skaggs, 27, dead in a room at the team hotel after responding to a call about an unconscious male. They said they did not suspect foul play. A spokeswoman for the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office said it had not yet received Skaggs’s body.
Not long after news of the death broke, fans started visiting Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., to build a memorial made of flowers, caps, balloons and other items. An electronic sign above a locked gate at the park’s entrance read: “Tyler Skaggs, 1991-2019.”
The Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton, who dealt with the sudden death of his Marlins teammate Jose Fernandez during the 2016 season, posted a long message to the Angels on Instagram, offering advice for coping with such a loss.
Stanton said the players should expect to feel some anger about grieving “in a fish bowl,” and he encouraged the team to stick together through that.
“The first days back to schedule are the weirdest feeling,” Stanton wrote, “from the energy to the questions to having to walk past his locker.”
Skaggs was in his seventh season in the majors, his fifth with the Angels; he was 7-7 with a 4.29 earned run average in 15 starts this season. His last start was Saturday at home, a 4-0 loss to the Oakland A’s.
He posted a photo on Instagram on Sunday showing his teammates outside their plane wearing cowboy hats ahead of the series in Texas. “Howdy, y’all,” the caption read, followed by a smiley-face emoji with a cowboy hat.
The Angels have been haunted by tragedy over the years. Luis Valbuena, a 32-year-old infielder, died in Venezuela last December after highway robbers ambushed his car, which crashed. Another former major leaguer, José Castillo, was also killed in the crash.
In 1978, Angels outfielder Lyman Bostock was fatally shot while driving after a game in Chicago. A former reliever, Donnie Moore, killed himself in 1989, less than a year after his final game with the team.
More recently, pitcher Nick Adenhart, a 22-year-old rookie, was killed by a drunken driver just hours after making his season debut in 2009. This April, Skaggs retweeted a Los Angeles Times article about Adenhart on the 10th anniversary of his final game.
“You sit there and start thinking, ‘What kind of career would Nick have had in baseball?’” the former Angel Kevin Jepsen said in that article. “And I’m sure it would have been a great one.”
Skaggs had more time than Adenhart to give a portrait of the kind of pitcher he would be. Skaggs made 96 starts across seven seasons, going 28-38 with a 4.41 E.R.A. But as a young left-hander, he still held great promise, and he beat the Toronto Blue Jays and the St. Louis Cardinals in consecutive road starts this June, allowing one run and no walks over a combined 12 1/3 innings.
The Angels always had high hopes for Skaggs, and they acquired him twice. They signed him as a first-round draft choice from Santa Monica High School in California in 2009, traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks a year later and brought him back in 2013. Skaggs developed into a regular part of the rotation, and though he often fought injuries, he had made all his starts this season and led the team in innings pitched.
Mike Trout, the Angels star, tweeted condolences to Skaggs’s family and said the team’s sadness defied words. Then he bid goodbye to the young pitcher with a reference to his uniform number. “Remembering him as a great teammate, friend, and person who will forever remain in our hearts … we love you, 45.”
Skaggs married last year and had friendships in the game that extended beyond the Angels.
“I just had lunch with Tyler a couple weeks ago,” the former major league pitcher Phil Hughes wrote on Twitter. “We talked pitching, life. He was so excited about the season. Absolutely gutted.”
Trevor Bauer, the Cleveland Indians right-hander who played with Skaggs in Arizona, wrote: “We came up together. We won together. We laughed and celebrated together. Today, we all lose and mourn together. Your memory, your love for life, everything that made you, you, will live forever in the hearts and minds of those who knew you.”