Angels right-hander Garrett Richards has been diagnosed with a torn patellar tendon in his left knee and will undergo surgery that will come with a recovery time of six to nine months, the Angels announced (Twitter links). Given the length of the recovery period, it’s possible that the Halos’ breakout star could miss the beginning of the 2015 season as well.
Richards is the second young pitcher that the Angels have lost this month, as they also received the news that lefty Tyler Skaggs required Tommy John surgery. If there’s a slight silver lining for Angels fans, it’s that Richards will almost certainly be able to contribute next season, whereas Skaggs is unlikely to do so.
Nonetheless, it’s a crucial blow to an Angels team that is in a close race with the Athletics for the AL West division title. The 26-year-old Richards has been an anchor for manager Mike Scioscia’s rotation this season, pitching to a 2.61 ERA with 8.8 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a 50.9 percent ground-ball rate in 168 2/3 innings of work.
The Angels will now lean even more heavily on Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson atop their rotation, with likely contributions from Matt Shoemaker, Hector Santiago and perhaps Wade LeBlanc at the back of the starting five. LeBlanc was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake today after posting a 4.00 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 123 2/3 innings this season, but the 30-year-old veteran hasn’t seen consistent time in a big league rotation since 2011 with the Padres. He has a career 4.56 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 424 1/3 Major League innings.
The Richards injury will only further speculation that the Halos could look outside the organization to add an arm for the stretch drive. Reports yesterday indicated that Mets right-hander Bartolo Colon has yet to hit the waiver wire, and he would be a logical target for the Angels if he reaches them (a team like the Mariners, however, could block their division rivals by placing a claim). MLBTR’s list of players that have reportedly cleared revocable waivers does include a few pitchers, but it seems highly unlikely that any of Yu Darvish, Jon Niese or Gio Gonzalez would truly be available. Hypothetically speaking, Niese is the most realistic option, as the Mets aren’t contending. However, the Angels’ depleted farm system likely doesn’t have the necessary chips to make such an acquisition.
Richards’ injury could also have an impact on GM Jerry Dipoto’s offseason strategy, as it likely increases the importance of adding veteran pitching depth — even on minor league deals. Of course, for the time being, Dipoto and his lieutenants will be focused on the next two months as they hope to make a postseason appearance, which would be their first since 2009.