Already armed with a 98-mph fastball and biting slider, Richards is working on a changeup he intends to fully implement this season.
"Every day, it gets a little better," said Richards, who threw mostly fastballs and changeups in a 52-pitch outing Sunday. "It's a pitch that gets people off the fastball and sets up everything. It's going to be another pitch that guys have to respect."
Richards, who went 15-12 with a 3.65 ERA last season, threw the changeup sparingly earlier in his career but did not throw it at all the last two seasons. He consulted Heaney and closer
"I've always tried to throw a changeup but have never been able to grasp the concept of throwing one because I'm essentially a grab-it-and-throw-it kind of guy," Richards said. "I found a grip I like and talked to guys about their thought process when they throw it."
Richards, whose fastball hit 100 mph last week, is throwing the changeup at about 90 mph. His slider averages 87 mph, and his slow curve 79 mph.
"I don't know what the ideal velocity will be," Richards said of the changeup. "As long as it imitates a heater, and it's slower than the fastball, that's all I want."
Angels center fielder Mike Trout said an effective changeup would make Richards even tougher to hit.
"It puts something else in the hitter's mind," Trout said. "You have to worry about another pitch instead of just the fastball-slider."