Garrett Richards delivered again for the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday, shutting the Philadelphia Phillies out for seven innings while scattering just five hits, walking none and racking up eight strikeouts. For the season now, Richards boasts a 2.42 ERA to go with a 1.06 WHIP and 54 strikeouts over 52 innings. Even including this season, Richards is a guy with a career 4.05 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and a very pedestrian 6.73 K/9, so what should we expect moving forward? Will we see the pitcher who’s striking out a batter an inning with a sub-2.50 ERA or the pitcher with a career 1.36 WHIP?
I think we’re watching Richards break out. I expect some slight regression across the board, but I do believe that what we’ve seen so far in 2014 is legit. Richards is throwing harder than he ever has before, and he currently has the third highest average fastball velocity among starting pitchers. For his career he’s averaged just under 95 MPH on his fastball, this year he’s up to 96 MPH and all of his other pitches are up about one MPH too. For his career, opposing hitters have hit .281 against Richards’ fastball with a .144 ISO and a 10.0 percent strikeout percentage. In 2014, opposing hitters are hitting just .177 against his fastball with a .081 ISO and a 17.6 percent strikeout percentage.
Now, like I said above, regression should be expected. Richards is currently being helped by a .256 BABIP and a 2.8 percent home-run-to-fly-ball rate. Both of those rates should increase, and when they do his ERA is going to take a hit. That being said, his 2.49 FIP and 3.14 xFIP suggests that even when the regression comes, Richards is still going to be an above average pitcher.
Richards has been one of the hottest pickups in fantasy baseball recently, but he’s still available in 14.6 percent of ESPN leagues and in 31 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Richards is a guy who should be owned in all leagues, so if he’s still available in yours, go make the add.