Garrett Richards Aiming for Opening Day Return


The Halos’ hopes of a World Series title effectively died on a muggy night at Fenway Park in late August when Garrett Richards went down awkwardly after attempting to cover first base. The 26-year-old ruptured his patellar tendon in his left knee and missed the remainder of the 2014 season, the postseason, and his recovery was expected to take 6-8 months. According to Alden Gonzalez of, it appears his rehabbing has gone perfectly, and a return for opening day is not out of the question for Richards.

More from Halo Hangout

The Los Angeles Angels originally selected Garrett Richards in the first round of the 2009 draft out of Oklahoma State University. Richards burned up the minor leagues en route to making his big league debut in 2011 at the age of 23. The right-hander struggled initially in the big leagues, but he has made significant strides in every season since. This past season Richards took the next step and became an elite hurler for the Angels.

Garrett Richards posted career best numbers across the board last year in the big A. He went 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA across 168.2 innings pitched. Richards held the opposition to just 1.038 walks/hits per inning and recorded a FIP of 2.60. He averaged 8.8 strikeouts per 9 innings, and issued 2.7 walks per 9 innings. His 3.22 strikeout per walk ratio was the highest mark of his career.

From Alden Gonzalez’s article on

"“When I heard the words ‘six months,’ I instantly thought, ‘Hey, Opening Day can be a real possibility. So that’s kind of been my target since Day 1. Once we get to Spring Training, the way I progress is kind of going to dictate things. But I feel good right now, and hopefully when I get to Spring Training, it’ll only get better.”"

Following the announcement that Garrett Richards had suffered a catastrophic injury to his left knee, a return by opening day seemed like a pipe dream. In December, Skipper Mike Scioscia revealed that the club was hoping to get Richards back sometime in May. Recently, General Manager Jerry Dipoto suggested an April debut was likely. Richards is now saying he could potentially be ready to pitch by opening day. Getting a full season of work out of Richards could be the difference for the Halos between playing in the postseason and watching on TV.

Losing Garrett Richards really hurt the Halos in 2014. Prior to the injury on August 20, the Angels were 75-50, and were red hot. The Angels went 23-14 without their best pitcher, and were swept by the Kansas City Royals in the American League Division series. While their record stayed steady, the Angels’ pitching staff was noticeably weaker down the stretch in Richards’ absence. The Richards injury was not the lone reason for the Halos’ early exit from the postseason, but it certainly did not help matters.

Currently, the Angels starting rotation is expected to be anchored by an aging Jered Weaver, an unreliable C.J. Wilson, and Matt Shoemaker. Weaver has been a quality starter for the Halos, but his ERA has gone up in each of the last four seasons. Wilson is a special guy in the community, but his performance on the field in 2014 was far from special. The 28-year-old Shoemaker has the potential to be a great starter for years to come in Anaheim, but the bearded beauty projects more as supplementary arm rather than a featured one. A healthy Garrett Richards is a necessary ingredient for a successful 2015 season.

More from LA Angels News

The Seattle Mariners had the best pitching staff in the American League West last year, and with their offensive additions this offseason, the M’s figure to present the Halos with a formidable opponent in 2015. The Oakland A’s have retooled, and appear set to make yet another run at October baseball. The Houston Astros may still be a year away from truly scaring the Halos, but they have an impressive group of improving youngsters. The Angels are going to need better results from their pitchers to contend this year, and having Garrett Richards back for the majority of the season is critical.

The patellar tendon injury may have derailed his season, but thanks to an aggressive offseason recovery program, the Edmond, OK product’s future remains bright. Ideally, Garrett Richards will make 30 plus starts this summer and post similar numbers to what he had prior to hurting his knee. If this can happen, it will really boost the Angels’ chances of repeating as AL West champs in 2015.