One of the most easily forgotten transactions of last offseason saw the San Diego Padres sign right-handed starter Garrett Richards to a two-year deal. Richards, formerly of the Los Angeles Angels, was expected to miss most of the season while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. That two-year deal, then, was more of a one-year deal -- with that one year being about 2020.

Yet Richards stepped onto a big-league mound on Monday night for the first time since last July, and there was some reason to be encouraged -- even if his final line doesn't suggest as much.

Richards threw 3 ⅔ innings against the Milwaukee Brewers, permitting three runs on five hits and no walks in a loss. He struck out five and threw strikes on 42 of his 61 pitches (or nearly 70 percent overall). Richards induced six swinging strikes, including four on his trademark slider:


For those wondering, Richards' fastball clocked in at 94.7 miles per hour on average, according to Statcast. That's down about 1 mile per hour from his average in recent seasons. Whether he regains that extra oomph is to be seen.

The Padres are about to embark on a pivotal offseason, one in which they're likely to pursue a front-of-the-rotation starter. If Richards can regain most of his old form -- he had a 122 ERA+ over 86 starts from 2014-18 -- then he could factor into those plans, and perhaps help lead San Diego to its first postseason appearance since 2007.