Garrett Richards: 2014 Season Review
Today we are beginning our 2014 reviews at Halo Hangout and to start off, I will begin with Garrett Richards. Richards is recovery from knee surgery after he tore his patellar tendon in his August 20 start at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox. He is expected to be healthy and ready to go by Opening Day. Throughout the 2014 season, he had some good things happen and also some things that need to be improved upon. Let’s start with the good.
There is no better place to begin that to mention that it was a really good thing he became a full time starter in 2014. He started 26 games, the Angels winning 19 of them, and pitched a career high 168 and two-thirds innings. Finishing the 2013 season as a starter gave him the push he needed in 2014.
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On top of the innings that he was able to log, was the amount of good innings he gave the Angels. Coming into the season, fans weren’t sure how the rotation would turn out, but Richards was a major piece in solidifying it. He allowed 124 hits, 45 less than C.J. Wilson, in just five less innings. His ground ball rate of just over 50 percent helped him be as affective as he was this season. The ground ball rate was high and the line drive rate was low, a recipe for success. The chart below shows the amount of success he had at getting ground balls.
Also making him successful was his ability to strike guys out. He averaged just below nine strikeouts per nine innings, while walking just below three per nine. Those numbers put him in the top five in Fielder Independent Pitching in Major League Baseball. Adding to the cause was his ability to keep the ball in the ballpark. Last season he allowed 12 home runs between the bullpen and starting rotation, but this season was a completely different story. He allowed just five balls to leave the yard.
It will be hard for Richards to repeat what he did in 2014 next season, but if it can be close, he will be just fine. Now that you know all of the great things that Richards did in the 2014 season, it is time to get to the few bad things that happened.
Topping the list is the injury. The injury on August 20 that ended his season at Fenway Park was possibly the worst thing that could’ve happened. He was rolling right along and boom, season over. That is something that hurt the Angels in the series against Kansas City, in my opinion. He is supposed to be ready by Opening Day, but if I’m Garrett Richards, I make sure I am 100 percent and not rushing back just to prove I’m ready by Opening Day. The season isn’t won or lost in April and the Angels don’t want to lose Garrett Richards again.
The major down fall when looking at Garrett Richards is the amount of free bases he allowed due to wild pitches. He threw a league leading 22 wild pitches this season, more than he had thrown in the previous three years combined. These wild pitches led to more runs that shouldn’t have scored. Which leads me into my next point. He allowed too many big innings to occur, putting him in the hole from the start. If there is one thing that he needs to focus on other than getting healthy is not allowing the big inning. Once he allowed the big inning, his start went out the window and he lost it. There weren’t too many of those moments in 2014, but the last thing you want is for that to transfer over to more of those types of starts next season.
The future for Richards is very bright. He won’t turn 27 until May and has three full seasons under his belt. The FanGraphs steamer has Richards throwing close to 200 innings, but not getting as lucky with batting average on balls in play as he did this past season. The predict him to get 13 wins just like this past season, with an ERA just over three and a half. If he can continue to throw ground balls and limit the amount of line drives, Richards will be in good shape. The main thing for Richards in 2015, is being healthy.