When Martin Maldonado jogged out to the mound and motioned for someone to attend to Garrett Richards, it was officially panic time. The one player many people felt the Angels couldn’t do without this season was Richards. After losing Richards and many other pitchers last season, the Halos fell apart. Richards is the closest thing the Angels have to an ace. Without him, the pitching staff takes a huge hit.
We’ve said at least a million times; the Angels need effective pitching to be a contender. That gets a lot less likely without Richards. When we saw Richards motioning towards his elbow, the panic grew.
The initial news wasn’t terrible, all things considered. A biceps strain, and Richards was placed only on the ten-day DL. The thought was that Richards would only miss one start, and the way things worked out with the schedule, the Angels could roll with a four man rotation to cover that start. Instead, J.C. Ramirez was needed to fill his spot today, and Richards won’t be ready to come off the D.L. when eligible on Sunday. Scioscia seemed to indicate today that Ramirez would hopefully be able to fill in for a few starts in a “best-case scenario.” That seems to imply that Richards is not particularly close to returning.
Richards made only ten starts last season after tearing his UCL, and injury that generally requires Tommy John surgery. Instead, he opted for treatment and rest, and all signs pointed to Richards being able to avoid the surgery heading into the season.
With that history, any type of arm injury is scary, and deserves to be treated as such. The longer he’s out, the more likely it becomes that there is something more serious going on. The longer he’s out, the more rehab time he’ll need. As he misses more starts, the losses will pile up. The Angels’ starting rotation is struggling severely to start the season, putting the team in deep holes and not giving the team nearly enough innings.
It’s not a stretch to say that as Richards goes, so go the Angels’ hopes of contending. The longer he’s out, the more likely it seems that there is something more serious going on. Given the history of that throwing arm for the Halos’ ace, it’s not crazy to think Tommy John could be an eventuality.
The Angels already seem resigned to not having Richards for an extended period of time. Don’t be surprised if the injury is more serious than you’ve been told up to this point. The Angels are already hurt by the loss of Richards. If he’s out for the season, it could be a hurt the Halos’ can’t recover from.