Although the Padres sit below .500 (42-43) as the season nears the All-Star break, they’re still just two games back of a wild-card spot in the National League. If the team hangs in the race until late in the year, it could get back a key reinforcement in right-hander Garrett Richards. The Padres are hopeful the recovering Tommy John surgery patient will join their staff in September, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Richards went under the knife last July, effectively ending his Angels tenure, but that didn’t stop the Padres from making a strong commitment to him in free agency. The club guaranteed $15.5MM over two years to Richards, thus making him their second-biggest offseason signing behind Manny Machado.
The 31-year-old Richards earned his deal as a result of a promising stint with the Angels, a 744 2/3-inning stretch from 2011-18 in which he logged a 3.54 ERA/3.62 FIP with 7.8 K/9, 3.24 BB/9 and a 52.5 percent groundball rate. However, injuries – not just Richards’ damaged ulnar collateral ligament – undermined him toward the end of his Angels tenure. Richards concluded his run in Los Angeles with 76 1/3 or fewer innings in each of his final three seasons with the franchise.
When Richards has been healthy enough to take the mound, he has produced like someone capable of slotting in near the top of a team’s rotation. That explains why the starter-needy Padres took a gamble on him for a somewhat expensive amount of money. The team’s current rotation could certainly use a recovered Richards, having managed only mediocre numbers overall. Chris Paddack, Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer have been good or better, as has Logan Allen across a mere three appearances. But no one from a trio consisting of Matt Strahm, Nick Margevicius and Cal Quantrill has offered a solution over a combined 33 starts.
As they continue to wait for Richards, the Padres will welcome righty Dinelson Lamet back to their rotation Thursday. The 26-year-old Lamet, like Richards, has recently seen Tommy John surgery stall his career. Lamet impressed as a rookie in 2017 before hitting the operating table in April 2018.