The Angels rotation has lost their ace with Jered Weaver hitting the 15-day DL, so the Halos have called up their number two prospect Garrett Richards to fill the vacant roster spot. Weaver knows what it’s like to be a young prospect getting called up to replace an ace (his first call-up was to replace the injured Bartolo Colon), but jokes that Richards shouldn’t “get too comfortable,” in his spot.
Richards almost made the big league roster this spring, vying for the number five starter position with the injured Jerome Williams. He was impressive this spring, and certainly gave the team something to think about while they finalized the rotation, but the club wanted to give Richards a little more seasoning in the Pacific Coast League at Triple-A Salt Lake and patiently wait for Williams to recover from his hamstring injury. That sure looks like a good call now, doesn’t it?
Richards has used the extra time in Triple-A to work on tightening up his pitching, working to consistently hit his spots down in the zone. Predominantly using a three-pitch repertoire last year, Richards has been working on refining his curveball, throwing it for strikes and using it as an out pitch. He’s also made concerted efforts to slow the game down and not allow the pace to dictate how he pitches.
The results have been mixed for Richards this season. In 10 starts at Triple-A, the righty is 5-2 with a 4.31 ERA, striking out 48 and walking 29. Things have gotten a bit more difficult for Richards lately after a solid start to the season, posing a 7.06 ERA over his last six starts with 23 walks. Big league competition is usually the place to work that out, though, right?
The Angels will use Richards out of the bullpen over the next few days as they weigh their options at the fifth starter spot. Dan Haren, who pitched a gem on Tuesday, could pitch Sunday’s series finale against Texas, but the club will need a fifth starter by Tuesday. Whether that fifth guy is Richards or not remains to be seen.
This is not the first call-up for Richards, who is banking on that experience to make a smoother transition to the majors. Last season, Richards was a late-season call-up, appearing in seven games, starting three, and posted a record of 0-2 with a 5.79 ERA. Richards hopes to improve on those numbers and help the Angels continue their hot streak, currently up to eight straight wins. He won’t be trying (or able) to get Halos fans to say “Jered who?” but as long as he proves to be an adequate stop-gap until Weaver returns, Richards will count this trip up as a success.