Five Players Who Will Be Keys To LA Angels Success in 2017?
Garrett Richards –
Garrett Richards is the new ace of the Angels pitching staff and has been when healthy over the past four years. The words “When Healthy” are key as Richards has miss parts of two seasons, last year and in 2014.
Last year Richards season ended on May 1st, as he came out of his start against the Texas Rangers in what was then described as fatigue. It was later diagnosed as a UCL tear in his right elbow. Richards decided to undergo stem-cell injections where platelets were injected in hopes of repairing the UCL so that he did not have to undergo Tommy John Surgery.
The procedure worked for Richards as he is on track to be ready for the start of the 2017 season which will be a huge lift for the Angels pitching staff. Last year the staff was decimated by injuries to both starters and key relievers. In addition to Richards, starters Andrew Heaney (one start) and Nick Tropeano who missed about half the season with a UCL tear.
Both Tropeano and Heaney opted for Tommy John Surgery which will keep them out a minimum of 18 months which will hopefully have them ready by the beginning of the 2018. This is why it is even more imperative that Richards returns to help bolster a staff that by the end of last season was down to a mish-mosh of arms.
In the starting five at season’s end the Angels had an untested rookie (Alex Meyer), a journeyman pitcher (Daniel Wright), a pitcher trying to resurrect his career(Ricky Nolasco), a pitcher coming back from Tommy John Surgery (Tyler Skaggs) and a veteran pitcher winding down his Angels career (Jered Weaver).
This year Richards leads the staff with veteran Matt Shoemaker and Tyler Skaggs right behind him, followed by Ricky Nolasco. The fifth starter spot is still up for grabs with Jesse Chavez who was signed in the off-season as well Meyer, Wright, and possibly non-roster invitee Bud Norris.
However, Richards is the key to the staff being success. The Angels need him to be durable and get 15-17 wins with an ERA under 3.70 and provide the team with a go to guy and a streak breaker when needed. The Angels may be somewhat careful with Richards early in the season to make sure he is fully recovered before totally turning him loose without restrictions such as pitch count or an innings limit.