Following an off year, Garrett Richards returned to his ace-caliber form in 2016. He came out of the gate hot, posting an excellent 2.34 ERA and a 0.5 HR/9 while averaging nearly a strikeout per inning over his first six starts. Things went south as he left his first May start due to what ultimately was diagnosed as a torn UCL. Richards opted to avoid Tommy John surgery through the use of plasma and stem-cell injections. The 28-year-old even got back to throwing against live hitters in late September and was clocked at 95 mph during his final instructional league outing, which seems to show that he's back at full strength. His control still wasn't outstanding by any stroke of the imagination (3.89 BB/9), but if he can stay healthy while fanning batters at a high clip and keeping the ball in the park, Richards could climb into the league's elite starting pitching echelon. Understandably, the Angels plan to closely monitor his workload in 2017.
Richards (elbow) agreed to a one-year, $6.85 million contract with the Angels on Friday, avoiding arbitration, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. The right-hander missed the final five months of the 2016 season after being diagnosed with a torn UCL. He opted to forego Tommy John surgery and instead try stem-cell therapy. It sounds like Richards is on track to be ready for the start of the year, but manager Mike Scioscia has already said that Richards' pitch counts and innings workload will be monitored carefully.
Richards (elbow) will have his pitch counts and innings workload monitored carefully in 2017, the Orange County Register reports. "You're not going to see Garrett throwing 220 innings next year," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I hate to put a floor on (the innings) and hate to get into a range right now, but I can tell you that we are going to be very, very careful with where Garrett is and make sure that he rebounds and maintains his stuff." To date, everything seems to be going as planned for Richards' recovery from a torn UCL, as he opted for stem-cell therapy instead of Tommy John surgery. Richards was one of several Angels pitchers to succumb to an arm injury in 2016, but Scioscia indicated that there won't be any revisions to the team's program during spring training.
Richards (elbow) was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list Tuesday. The right-hander tore his UCL in May, but he avoided Tommy John surgery and seems to be on track for a full recovery prior to spring training. As long as his rehab goes as planned, Richards will likely slot in at the top of the Angels rotation.
Richards (elbow) threw four scoreless innings in his final instructional league outing Thursday, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. The outing was ended before the final out in the fourth was recorded, but it was still an encouraging outing for Richards, who struck out five while allowing just three hits. There were fears that the former first-round pick would need to undergo Tommy John surgery after tearing his UCL in May, but Richards was able to reach 95 miles per hour with his fastball in the outing, and said he has "passed every test" in regards to the health of his elbow. This bodes well for Richards being able to begin the 2017 season as a part of the Angels' rotation.
Richards will face live hitters for the first time Wednesday since injuring his elbow in May, Pedro Richards continues to work to avoid Tommy John surgery. If all goes well Wednesday, he will move on to the instructional leagues next week in Arizona, and from there we'll be able to see if Richards can rejoin the Angels rotation in time for Opening Day or even spring training.