The Angels’ strained, inflamed season reached a new depth of absurdity Tuesday when their latest injury hurt not only them but perhaps another team.
Starting pitcher Garrett Richards was forced to exit in the middle of a third inning at-bat in a game the Angels eventually would win, 9-3, over Seattle.
The team announced that Richards has “right forearm irritation” with an MRI scheduled for Wednesday.
“You could just see the ball wasn’t coming out…of his hand the way we know it can,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’ll let the medical staff give us direction. He’ll have a study done and we’ll see what’s going on.”
Richards was limited to six starts the past two seasons because of a damaged ulnar collateral ligament and biceps nerve irritation in his right arm.
He avoided ligament replacement surgery by undergoing the sort of stem-cell therapy the Angels are now using to treat Shohei Ohtani’s sprained UCL.
When healthy - which hasn’t been a reality since 2015 - Richards might be the Angels’ best starter.
General manager Billy Eppler, while never using the word “ace,” has explained that Richards possesses that type of ability. Scioscia repeatedly has called the right-hander “the lead dog.”
The Angels’ shrinking chances of reemerging in the American League wild card race hinge on many things, including Richards’ performance. They likely aren’t going anywhere without him.
If they accept what appears to be their mounting fate and decide to become sellers at the trade deadline, an intact Richards would be a prime piece to move. He’s a free agent after this season.