Garrett Richards Shaky for LA Angels Opening Day

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Garrett Richards
ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Garrett Richards /

Garrett Richards got the nod for his third Opening Day start for the LA Angels. While it was not a phenomenal start, there were definitely some positives to take away from his performance.

With so much hype around new LA Angels star Shohei Ohtani, manager Mike Scioscia made it clear that Garrett Richards is still the ace of the staff. This was made clear when Richards was chosen to start his second Opening Day for the Halos.

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Last year, Richards showed ace potential in his first start but missed the next few months because of injury. This year, Richards had flaws throughout his start. All in all though, he went five innings while allowing four runs.

Richards had good velocity on Thursday, with his fastball ranking as the third fastest average for a starter on Opening Day. His pitches also had good movement, but he faltered with his command. He only struck out four batters, which is on par for Richards. In his last full season, he averaged 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings.

The concerning part is that he also walked three batters. Last year, he had nearly four strikeouts per walk allowed. In his last full season in 2015, he had a 2.32 strikeout-to-walk ratio. While it is only his first start, it was definitely concerning.

The game plan for Halo pitchers is this: keep the ball in the park and let an elite defense make the outs. This is something Richards has struggled with in the past, and all four of his runs on Thursday came on back-to-back home runs. If he can start to keep the ball on the ground though, fans will start to see the All-Star type numbers we saw in 2015 and at the end of last season.

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While it was no elite start, Richards made it out healthy and feeling good. The biggest stat for Garret Richards this season will be starts made, and so far he is 1-1. His talent is there, and the production will follow.

Make no mistakes about it. The 2018 LA Angels will only go as far as Garrett Richards takes them.