If the Angels had felt better about their bullpen, Garrett Richards likely would have opened the season in Triple-A as the team’s sixth starter. Since they didn’t, he was quickly emerging as a major league setup man. However, Jered Weaver’s left elbow injury has changed all that, and the Angels announced that Richards would move into the rotation and start Saturday.
Richards pitched in relief in four of the Angels’ first six games, allowing one run in 4 1/3 innings and striking out five. He’ll probably be on a modest pitch count in his first start against the Astros. While he did throw 6 1/3 innings in a start against Milwaukee on March 23, he hasn’t pitched more than three innings in an outing since.
Richards should prove to be a decent enough replacement for Weaver, but the Angels’ lack of depth is already being tested. Richards’ departure will from the pen will weaken that group and force the team to rely more on Kevin Jepsen and Mark Lowe. If another starter gets hurt, they’d likely dip back into the pen for Jerome Williams. Their most advanced pitching prospect, Nick Maronde, no longer appears to be an option after the Angels announced he’d be treated as a reliever this year.