With Garrett Richards out for the rest of the season following knee surgery Friday, the Angels figure to fill the right-hander's spot in their rotation -- at least temporarily -- with left-hander Wade LeBlanc, who was called up from triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday.
But LeBlanc, who has pitched in 98 big league games for five teams over parts of seven seasons, made clear that he isn't replacing Richards (13-4. 2.61). He'll just be starting in his place.
"I don’t think there’s really anybody outside of maybe two or three guys in the entire major leagues that can take the place of a Garrett Richards," said LeBlanc, who was 10-3 with a 4.00 ERA in 21 starts at Salt Lake. "Me not being one of those two or three guys, the only job that I have going in is to get as many outs as I can, keep the games close, get the ball to the bullpen."
The Angels' rotation is set through this weekend's crucial three-game series with Oakland, meaning LeBlanc's first start is likely to come Monday against Miami.
After that, the Angels could juggle their rotation again, leaving LeBlanc's status beyond Monday up in the air.
But even one start in the heat of a pennant race is heavy stuff, says LeBlanc.
"Perfect script, I’d be up here the entire season," he joked. "But that being said, if they ask me to give them some innings, they feel like I'm the best option out there, well, absolutely it’s something you look forward too and appreciate."