Not 5 days ago, I was talking to my friend Kyle about Garrett Richards. He was quietly having an incredible season in Anaheim, posting a 2.53ERA and a 13-4 record. For those who use for in depth statistics, you can look at his 4.4 WAR, which is 8th in all of baseball. I consider myself a pretty knowledgeable guy when it comes to baseball, and I had never heard of him as a prospect, and it took until about two weeks ago until I had heard of him, even, as a major league player. To say he was under the radar would be an understatement.
I was planning on writing a post today about Garret Richards, and how he came out of nowhere, and what was different about this season as compared to others, but then today, just by coincidence, he was carted off the field in Boston with an apparently serious knee injury, and is likely to miss a few games, at the very least. Now the question becomes whether or not the Angels can still be competitive without Richards. I didn’t even know who he was until the beginning of this month.
The problem is that, while Richards has been, far and away, the best pitcher in the Angels rotation this year, their second best by WAR and FIP, Tyler Skaggs, has also been lost for the season to injury. After Skaggs, it’s the tried and true Jered Weaver, but Weaver is having a decidedly down year by his standards. After that, it’s Hector Santiago and Matt Shoemaker, who have both been pretty good, but Santiago walks too many guys and Shoemaker gives up contact that is too hard.. CJ Wilson, the final starter, has been a complete disaster.
Where LA go from here? They have Oakland and Seattle, with their elite pitching staring back at them in the West, and pedestrian starters already in their rotation with a new hole to fill. They seem to have a big enough lead to make it, at least, to the Playoffs, but a 1 gamer with Weaver against Felix Hernandez just doesn’t sound like good news for the Halos. Richards’ injury likely changes the Angels’ entire outlook.
Oh, and about Richards. I figured out how he came out of nowhere to be ace material this season. His pitch velocity is up about 2mph across the board this year, and he is striking out a lot more guys and inducing weaker contact. He has the 3rd lowest HR/FB rate in the game, and lowers HR/9 rate among qualified pitchers. These stats likely aren’t sustainable, and even if healthy, Richards will see his numbers slide back a little bit. That’s the real shame of it all. What if this was to be Richards’ best season, statistically? Hopefully, he can catch lightning in a bottle again when he gets healthy. The Angels sure hope so.