There’s been a lot of talk already about new LA Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani could be an important piece for the Angels starting rotation, but even more important is the health of Garrett Richards.
Garrett Richards had an amazing 2014 season going 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA before a torn patella tendon in his knee cut Richards’ season short. Richards bounced back nicely in 2015 going 15-12 with a 3.65 ERA and all seem to be well again with the young Angel hurler.
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However, in 2016 things took a turn for the worse as Richards had to come out of his sixth start of the season and was diagnosed with a torn UCL in his right elbow. Richards opted for an experimental stem-cell platelet injection in his elbow and things seemed to be going well again as he was ahead of schedule in his rehab and was ready to start the 2017 season.
However, after only one start Richards had to be placed back on the disabled list with arm issues again and he did not pitch again until early September. When Richards did come back he looked very good in five starts, the only thing missing was his stamina as he was not stretched out enough to go more than 60-80 pitches.
Richards finished the season with a 2.28 ERA striking out 27 batters in 27.2 innings of work. This season Richards wil again try to be the pitcher the Angels have been hoping for in the top of their rotation. If Richards can come back totally healthy and stay that way for the whole season, it will go a long way in helping the team move closer to playoff contention.
Richards has been on track to be ready to start the season fully stretched out and ready to assume the ace role the Angels have needed the last couple of seasons. The Angels proposed six-man rotation could also help Richards to stay healthy for the full season and hopefully it will lead him to be more successful.
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The Angels have made a lot of moves in the off-season to bolster their line-up, but not much has been done to the pitching staff except for the Ohtani signing. Not to discount the impact he could have on the team, but with this said the Angels have pretty much decided to ride with the pitchers thy had last season and thee ones that are hopefully coming back from injuries.
Richards, Tyler Skaggs, Matt Shoemaker, Andrew Heaney, J.C. Ramirez, Parker Bridwell, and Nick Tropeano plus Ohtani will be in the mix for the five and possible six rotation spots. Only Ohtani is new to the Angels this season, so as I said earlier Richards health and performance will go a long way to solidify this season’s rotation.
We will just have to sit and see if Richards can claim the role of the team ace. Let’s hope.