Over the past two seasons, the Los Angeles Angels have been searching for stability in their pitching rotation, and they may have finally found it with Garrett Richards.
The right-hander has been phenomenal through his first five starts of the 2014 season as he has gone 2-0 with a 2.53 ERA, 31 strikeouts and 1.00 WHIP in 32.o innings pitched. This includes three quality starts with at least seven innings pitched, getting at least five strikeouts in each game, and he is first in the AL with a .147 opponent batting average.
Richards has been the Angels’ most consistent pitcher this season as he has the lowest ERA and WHIP among the five starters in the rotation. His pitching has kept the Angels in the thick of the AL West as they are only 3.5 games behind the Oakland Athletics despite the team’s early-season pitching woes.
The 25-year-old’s improvement this season has come from his ability to get out of jams when a batter gets on base either by a hit or walk. When these situations arise, Richards has shown he can keep his focus and get necessary outs. It will be important for him to maintain that type of mentality when there are runners on base as it is those instances where a clean inning can turn into a couple of runs allowed in a matter of moments.
Another area Richards must improve is his control as he has 16 walks, which is puts him among the most allowed for a starting pitcher this season. The right-hander has to continue to work on his control as walks often lead to long innings with a lot of pitches thrown resulting in runs scored. Richards has for the most part avoided that problem, but if this issue persists he could be in store for some rough starts.
That is a minor fix that could go a long ways for Richards to help continue his success on the mound this season. If he can continue to improve and give the Angels quality starts this year, he could be the team’s best pitcher by season’s end. That may be a bold statement, but at this point in the year he has proven it to be true.