In need of starting pitching last season, the Angels reached down to Class AAA and promoted right-hander Garrett Richards, asking him to make his first major league start in New York against the Yankees -- and then his second start against the first-place Texas Rangers.
Things didn't go so well. Richards was roughed up in the Bronx, then suffered a groin injury in the first inning of his second start against Texas. Overall, he was 0-2 with a 5.79 ERA in seven appearances (three starts) for the Angels last season.
With Jered Weaver going on the disabled list this week due to a back injury, the Angels will turn to Richards again. Wiser from his big-league experience and 10 starts in Class AAA this season, the 24-year-old Richards said he is up to the challenge of filling in for the Angels' ace.
"With (the Pacific Coast League) being a hitters' league, it forces you to tighten up your pitching and work on specific stuff like getting ahead of hitters and throwing the ball down in the zone," Richards said. "It's a good experience. It helped me a lot."
Richards pitched a scoreless ninth inning Wednesday in the Angels' 6-5 loss to the Yankees, and the Angels appear to be leaning toward making it a little easier on him this time around.
Weaver's spot in the rotation will come up Sunday in the series finale against the Rangers (the front-runners in the AL West again this season), but manager Mike Scioscia indicated the Angels would strongly consider starting Dan Haren that day. Because of an off day Thursday, Haren would be pitching on normal rest Sunday. He threw 102 pitches in seven-plus innings Tuesday.
Richards would then be needed either Monday or Tuesday against the Mariners -- one of the weaker lineups in the American League (despite their 21-run outburst against the Rangers on Wednesday).
"We'll see where he fits in," Scioscia said after Wednesday's game, still unwilling to set his rotation officially.