Angels have no plans to shut down Richards
Right-hander on pace to easily eclipse previous career high in innings
ANAHEIM -- Angels starter and burgeoning star Garrett Richards is coming up on some uncharted territory with regard to his workload, one that will see the 26-year-old right-hander blow past his previous career high in innings if he continues at his current rate over the season's final 10 weeks.
But that won't prompt the Angels to temporarily shut down Richards, a move clubs often deploy to preserve young starters and monitor how big of an innings jump they make from year to year.
"Not at all," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said Monday. "Garrett has thrown from end to end in a season. His innings have not escalated to the point where they're 200-plus, but Garrett throws the ball as easily as anybody you'll ever see. It's not a violent delivery, it's not a violent package. He maintains velocity pretty easily."
Richards is already at 131 1/3 innings, fewer than 14 innings shy of his total from last year, fewer than 17 shy of his total from 2012 and fewer than 26 shy of his previous career high from 2011 (157 innings, if you count his workload in the Majors and the Minors).
If Richards pitches every fifth game the rest of the way, he's on pace to finish the season with 216 2/3 innings.
Though shutting him down for the last three weeks of the season -- like the Nationals did with Stephen Strasburg in 2012 -- is out of the question, a team like the Angels could benefit from temporarily taking Richards out of the rotation to make sure he's fresh for a pennant race in September.
But as Dipoto alluded, Richards has pitched into September each of the last three seasons. And though his volume of innings is much greater this season, Richards says his arm responds better to the routine of a starting pitcher as opposed to the back-and-forth from the rotation to the bullpen he's gone through the last couple of years.
"The more consistent I stay with my routine, the better I feel," Richards said. "Throwing 100 pitches every five days and getting my bullpen in between, that's when I feel my best.
"I want to pitch every fifth day. I wouldn't want to get shut down or have my innings conserved."
The Angels will once again have six capable starters when C.J. Wilson (sprained right ankle) returns from the disabled list, giving them the freedom to push Richards back a day or skip his start if needed. They're open to that. But Richards has a 2.47 ERA and has completed at least seven innings in 14 of his 20 starts.
He's shown no signs of slowing down, so the Angels won't do it for him.
"He's going to go out and he's going to pitch," Dipoto said. "There will be time in the second half where we might be able to back up his pitch count on a given day or take him out. But we're not so phobic with innings that we're not going to pay attention to what the player is doing, or what his performance is telling us."