Garrett Richards nearly pitched his way into the Los Angeles Angels' rotation this spring, losing out to the more experienced Jerome Williams for the fifth starter's spot.
Given a second chance to make an impression when Jered Weaver went on the disabled list last week, Richards was outstanding against the Mariners on Tuesday night. He allowed just one run on four hits and two walks while striking out eight in seven innings to earn his first major league victory.
Richards might get as little as one more start before Weaver is ready to return, but the Angels could be tempted to keep him around to replace Ervin Santana in the rotation.
Santana has been unreliable this season, going 2-7 with a 5.33 ERA. He has lasted five innings or less in each of his past three starts, walking 14 in 14 2/3 innings over that time, and he leads the major leagues in home runs allowed (16 in 12 starts). Most troubling for the Angels, they have lost nine of his 12 starts.
"We're not contemplating anything like that," manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday when asked if the Angels might bump Santana. "It's great to have that depth in your rotation. It's great to see what Garrett did. Ervin is a guy we're counting very heavily on and have a lot of confidence that he's going to pitch more to his ability than maybe we saw the last couple times. That's where we are right now.
"Your rotation certainly evolves at certain times in the season, but right now we're not contemplating anything but getting Ervin back on track and hopefully Garrett contributing when he can."
Richards readily admits that he hopes to use this time to earn a full-time job in the rotation.
"Of course," he said after Tuesday's win. "I'm up here to help these guys win, but I'm also here to show people what I can do."
Williams' starting job is secure, but he was ineffective Wednesday in the Angels' 8-6 loss to the Seattle Mariners. He gave up seven runs (five earned) on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings.