Angels starter Garrett Richards left last night’s start against the Mariners after experiencing right forearm irritation, accompanied by a significant loss in velocity. He underwent an MRI today and the results were not good: he has a partially-damaged ulnar collateral ligament.
That is often a one-way ticket to Tommy John Town. But not always. Indeed, Richards himself had this same sort of injury a couple of years ago but opted instead to undergo stem cell replacement therapy, avoiding the knife. It worked to a point in that he did come back and has, when he has been healthy, pitched effectively, but he has suffered other injuries since, limiting him to 28 starts over the past three seasons combined. If Richards were to have that reconstructive elbow procedure, he’d miss the rest of the 2018 season and most if not all of the 2019 campaign. Horrible timing for him considering he’s a free agent following this season.
Richards has a 3.66 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 87/34 in 76.1 innings across 16 starts in 2018.
The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.