The Los Angeles Angels will be without their Opening Day starter for the remainder of the season. Garrett Richards is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery after tearing his ulnar collateral ligament.
Arguably the team's ace, Richards had an impressive start to his 2016 campaign. Despite going 1-3 in his six starts, Richards was getting plenty of strikeouts, and not allowing many home runs, though his walk rate climbed a bit. Richards' ERA- suggested he was pitching 36 percent better than the league average. His peripherals agreed, though to a lesser extent, as Richards' FIP- suggested he was pitching 16 percent better than the league average.
Source: Angels ace Garrett Richards has torn ulnar collateral ligament and is expected to need Tommy John surgery. https://t.co/wkbiUpTCl0— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 6, 2016
In addition, Angels starter Andrew Heaney has UCL damage and is trying to rehab to avoid Tommy John surgery. https://t.co/wkbiUpTCl0— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 6, 2016
In addition to Richards' UCL tear, another Angels starter is dealing with a partial UCL tear. Andrew Heaney has only pitched one start so far this season, a six-inning defeat in which he allowed four runs on seven hits including two home runs.
While the Angels' biggest weakness was already believed to be their starting rotation, it is now dire. Jered Weaver, Hector Santiago, and Nick Tropeano are the only healthy starters available at the moment. This has led the Angels to be forced to schedule Cory Rasmus -- a reliever -- to start in Friday's game that will likely be taxing on the bullpen.
Garrett Richards has been scratched from his scheduled start on Friday. He had said he felt fatigue. Cory Rasmus will start a bullpen game— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) May 5, 2016
The Angels' bullpen has already pitched the fifth-most inning in the American League. While they have had some varied success, a start like this can't possibly be good for future success.
To compound matters, the Angels' farm system doesn't boast hardly any major-league ready talent. Nate Smith is currently pitching for Triple-A Salt Lake and seems to be one of the only capable fill-ins. He boasts a 21 percent strikeout rate and 6.1 percent walk rate through his 35.2 innings pitched.
Perhaps this necessity opens up a new opportunity for Kyle Lohse after having just thrown a showcase for some teams. While that is mostly conjecture, Lohse threw for 23 teams on Thursday and the Angels have a definite need. That being said, I wouldn't expect Angels' GM Billy Eppler to act hastily on any decisions.