The Devastation of Losing Garrett Richards

It doesn’t take a statistical expert to recognize that Garrett Richards has been an outstanding starting pitcher this season. He’s been great by the numbers that everyone knows, and he’s been great by the numbers that fewer people know, and when all the indicators agree, there’s no doubting the conclusion. Garrett Richards has been awesome. And it doesn’t take a medical expert to recognize that Garrett Richards’ 2014 season is in jeopardy after the events of Wednesday night. Here’s a video that you can elect to not watch:

As I write this, there isn’t a timetable. Maybe Richards is going to turn out to be one of the lucky ones. But there’s a little over a month remaining in the regular season, and then there’s October, and it sure seems to me like Richards isn’t going to pitch again any time soon. Right now we can’t even be sure about April 2015. Recently, the Angels have started to get talked up as potentially the best team in the major leagues, given that they’ve passed by the A’s. There was a strong argument for that being the case. It’s almost certainly not the case without Garrett Richards.

This post is going to contain an assumption, and that assumption is that Richards is finished. I don’t yet know what happened in his leg, but I feel like it’s probably the sort of thing that’ll take a while to get better. Scheduling posts leaves me vulnerable to looking like an idiot after news gets spread that I couldn’t foresee, but, again, assumptions. So, what’s the effect of this injury? That’s what everyone wants to know about, right?

I opened a tab with our Playoff Odds page before updating the Angels’ depth chart, then I refreshed after replacing Richards in the Angels’ rotation with Wade LeBlanc. Maybe the Angels don’t turn to LeBlanc, but the identity doesn’t really matter — it’s not going to be anyone good. The Angels have a depth problem, being already without Tyler Skaggs, and now that could be exposed. Here now is what happened to the Angels’ projection, on account of Richards’ absence alone:

  • Rest of season win%: -0.019
  • Division odds: -7.5 percentage points
  • Wild card odds: +6.8
  • Playoff odds: -0.7
  • Division series odds: -4.4
  • Win ALDS odds: -5.7
  • Win ALCS odds: -4.8
  • Win WS odds: -3.7

Predictably, everything gets worse. There’s not a whole lot of damage done to the Angels’ overall playoff odds, because they already have built up such a significant lead, but they lose a step in the division, making it more likely they’re eliminated before the ALDS in a one-game playoff. And then their odds get worse in each series, as well, because Richards is the best starter they’ve got, and losing him hurts. Maybe you think these changes are too small. I’ll provide you a reason that might be true, and a reason that might not be true.

As far as the former is concerned, the projections are based on a ZiPS/Steamer blend, and for Richards this has been a breakout season. So the projections are going to be a little skeptical, and sure enough, Richards was projected to be worse. The projections foresaw a drop in strikeouts and a gain in home runs, and if you’re a more full believer in Richards’ 2014 improvement, then this is a bigger deal. Not that the Angels are left in a worse place, but they would’ve been dropping from a higher place. If you think Richards is really so good, then you can increase the numbers you see above a little.

Then we can get to the latter. The point here would be the same point as usual: Richards is one player, and one player can mean only so much. The Angels lead baseball in position-player WAR. The Angels are projected to lead baseball in position-player WAR the rest of the way. Richards was one of the most important players on the roster, but his contribution is dwarfed by the collective contribution of the bats and the gloves, and of course, the other starters are decent and the bullpen has been improved. Nothing was totally hanging on Richards’ health. The Angels remain a legitimate World Series contender, because they’re able to hit the crap out of the ball.

But still, given the Angels’ lack of organizational depth, it’s hard to imagine a more devastating pitching injury. Not that Richards was the best pitcher in baseball, but he was among them, and the Angels are poorly equipped to deal with his absence. Jered Weaver remains both adequate and declining. The team’s fighting to get C.J. Wilson to throw 60% strikes. Matt Shoemaker‘s running some sexy strikeout-to-walk numbers, but he has a long-standing dinger problem. Before I removed Richards from the Angels’ depth chart, they projected to have baseball’s No. 16 starting rotation the rest of the way. After I removed Richards, they dropped to No. 30. I don’t know if the Angels truly have the worst rotation in the majors, now, but they’re suddenly in the argument, which is what happens when you lose a bonafide flame-throwing ace.

The Tigers would be hurt if they lost David Price, but they at least have Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, and an eventually-returning Anibal Sanchez. The A’s have plenty of rotation depth, and behind Felix Hernandez the Mariners have Hisashi Iwakuma, Chris Young, and an assortment of young skill. The Orioles could survive any pitching injury because none of their pitchers are really all that good. In the other league, there are similar stories, and even in the awful event of Clayton Kershaw going down, the Dodgers do have other starters they could put together to form a legitimate postseason rotation. The Angels now are going to be left scrambling, which brings us to perhaps the silver lining.

If nothing else, at least, this happened while the front office can still modify the postseason roster. So the Angels don’t necessarily have to run with LeBlanc or Randy Wolf or Chris Volstad or whoever — they could conceivably get in the mix for Bartolo Colon, should the Mets place him on waivers. They could conceivably get in the mix for A.J. Burnett, or a handful of other options. Good pitchers aren’t out there, since good pitchers on reasonable contracts don’t make it through waivers, but even decent could be an upgrade, both now and potentially in October. The front office has time to evaluate its options, and the Angels’ lead in the playoff race allows for there to be a little less sense of urgency.

But while there are going to be options, none of those options are going to resemble Garrett Richards. Entering Wednesday, the Angels might’ve been the best team in baseball. Now they’re presumably down their staff ace, and it’s too late to get meaningfully better. With one wrong step in the vicinity of first base, the Angels lost a few percentage points of World Series odds. That might not sound all that significant, but that’s not because it’s not significant. It’s because it’s hard to have a bigger impact on those odds in the last stretch of August.



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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Slats
Guest
Slats
2 years 1 month ago

Trout to double as Starting Pitcher.

Warriors
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Warriors
2 years 1 month ago

Please just be a knee dislocation.

Old School
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Old School
2 years 1 month ago

Fuck the Angels!

JS7
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JS7
2 years 1 month ago

Please ban the troll.

Jhonny Manzana seed
Guest
Jhonny Manzana seed
2 years 1 month ago

JS7, haven’t you ever read Paradise Lost, dude? Angels are kind of assholes sometimes.

Tim
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

And there owner sucks the fat one just ask Vernon Wells..

Johnston
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

No thank you.

John Havok
Guest
John Havok
2 years 1 month ago

If you want this injury to be a knee dislocation, you’re insane.

But if you really ment so say patella dislocation, that’s better. There’s a huge difference between the two.

Johnston
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

You don’t want any baseball injury ever to be a knee dislocation. That means that everything there is out of place and all the ligaments are torn. It’s much worse than one ruptured tendon and can actually lead to the loss of the leg.

Shorebird Bob
Guest
Shorebird Bob
2 years 1 month ago

The Orioles could survive any pitching injury because none of their pitchers are really all that good.

And yet, the Orioles are better at preventing runs. Fancy that.

Hieronymous
Guest
Hieronymous
2 years 1 month ago

Defense matters. The Orioles are one of the best defensive teams in baseball, and that helps their pitchers a whole lot.

Wobatus
Guest
Wobatus
2 years 1 month ago

Great fielding, of course.

They’ve also pitched quite well in the 2nd half. 8th in starter WAR in the second half, 5th in overall pitching WAR. Small sample of course. Notgraphs just had apiece about Norris, mentioning his velocity is up, walks down. In the 2nd half Tillman, Chen and Norris are 17th, 27th and 29th in k%-bb% among all starters. They’ve been pitching very well.

They have a huge divisional lead and their fielding and power are key attributes, but I think their chances in the playoffs would be dinged by losing one of their top 4, and especially one of the top 3. Although I guess if they lost one they could go with Miguel or Ubaldo for 3 and then hand it off to Webb, Hunter, Miller, O’Day, Britton.

hookstrapped
Guest
hookstrapped
2 years 1 month ago

DD and the Moneyball 3. A rotation full of number 3 and 4 starters because number 1 and 2 starters are scarce, expensive, and fleeting; great defense; and a bullpen full of excellent 1-inning guys (many former failed starters) because such pitchers are relatively abundant and cheap. Chen and Gonzalez would routinely hit a wall in the 6th, and Tillman threw too many pitches, so this approach was born of necessity. But it seems to work.

Jeff Sullivan Hates The Orioles
Guest
Jeff Sullivan Hates The Orioles
2 years 1 month ago

At whatever point the O’s are eliminated, Jeff Sullivan will say the advanced numbers predicted it. If they win the World Series, he’ll say it was dumb luck because the better teams had devastating injuries.

nilbog44
Member
nilbog44
2 years 1 month ago

I’m hoping this is a parody account but I’m not sure

Leave a Reply
Guest
Leave a Reply
2 years 1 month ago

He’s written back-to-back posts on worsening Angels, but he hates the Orioles?

(Not that the posts are wrong, or overly gloating, but they definitely highlight and spotlight and amplify bad news that I would like to pretend doesn’t exist.)

Wobatus
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Wobatus
2 years 1 month ago

Jeff will probably say “Baseball.” Or he actually probably won’t say anything.

But they’re up to 68-57 in baseruns. Baseruns is starting to creep up towards the pythag and actual records.

Wobatus
Guest
Wobatus
2 years 1 month ago

Team WAR, position players and pitchers, since the beginning of June:

Orioles 24.4
Angels 21.4
A’s 15.9

Obviously not as telling as full year numbers, but the Orioles have come on strongly, and they are more a playoff lock then anybody in the AL. By the end of the year they might be the best team at that time.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 1 month ago

“By the end of the year they might be the best team at that time.”

That’s…that’s unlikely.

PackBob
Guest
PackBob
2 years 1 month ago

It may be unlikely that the Orioles are the best team by the end of the year according to true talent, but they might very well be playing the best. It could happen for a number of teams.

Brad Johnson
Member
Member
2 years 1 month ago

Technically, I think that’s Mr. Cameron’s job. And he’d be right.

yeah
Guest
yeah
2 years 1 month ago

they are pitching way over their heads right now.

frivoflava29
Member
frivoflava29
2 years 1 month ago

I was at Fenway last night and went to the concourse a few minutes after he went down. Everybody got pushed aside as soon I walked underneath while he was rushed through. I’ve been lucky enough to see a few hundred games in my life and so I’ve seen at least a half dozen or so major/season-ending injuries, but I’ve never really registered them as a fan until I was standing a foot away from Garrett Richards on a stretcher.

Nobody really seemed to know what happened after the play — most of the attention was on second and it wasn’t until Pujols pointed over at Richards still lying on the ground a few seconds later that anyone on field even realized. I know a lot of us probably watch most of our games on TV or not at all sometimes and only end up watching footage of or hearing about these injuries. But damn, no attorney has ever had to miss the Lawyer Playoffs because he blew out his throat from too much litigation.

Johnston
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

I’ve have had to miss work because of injuries suffered outdoors on the job. So have lots of other people. Three of my classmates in graduate school have been killed on the job. If you have any kind of job but a pure desk job, there are risks. And a desk job will lead to an early heart attack, so nobody’s safe.

I’m sorry about this injury, but injuries can and do happen to almost everyone.

Not a Safety Expert
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Not a Safety Expert
2 years 1 month ago

Jeez, man, what are you and your classmates getting a doctorate in, bullfighting?

Fett42
Guest
Fett42
2 years 1 month ago

I have to think this loss is even greater if they are not division winners given there’s a large dropoff between Richards and whoever else the Angels would start in a one game playoff.

Fett19
Guest
Fett19
2 years 1 month ago

It was never a certainty that the rotation would line up such that Garrett Richards would’ve been pitching in a one game playoff anyways. It is not always easy to lineup your starting rotation when you are battling up to the last day of the regular season for the division title.

fsoyer
Guest
fsoyer
2 years 1 month ago

When Wainwright went down in 2011, nobody gave the Cards a chance. Of course it’s bad, but I think the article is correct to point out that their odds of winning it all goes to zero.

fsoyer
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fsoyer
2 years 1 month ago

Correction, their odds don’t go to zero.

LaLoosh
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

they’ll deal for AJB.

Thor
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Thor
2 years 1 month ago

Question: Can other teams block a Burnett or Colon deal by claiming them off waivers? And wouldn’t a team like the A’s or Detroit, or even Baltimore be inclined to do that?

LaLoosh
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

the Mets or Phils can just let the claiming team have Colon or Burnett and both are under contract for 2015 – Colon for $11M and AJB for $7.5M minimum plus incentives. So any claiming team has to be willing to pay just for the block.

ASK
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ASK
2 years 1 month ago

I believe AJB already cleared waivers, but I also believe the Angels are on his no trade list.

Ian R.
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

Burnett is also 37 and probably headed for retirement, though. It’s pretty likely he’d waive his no-trade clause to pitch for the Angels for six weeks and have a shot at another ring.

Ian R.
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

If we’re talking about someone coming from an NL team, anyone could theoretically block the deal with a waiver claim because the Angels have the best record in the other league. (Unless the player in question has already cleared waivers, but that’s unlikely to be the case for anyone who’d be a significant upgrade.)

FeslenR
Guest
FeslenR
2 years 1 month ago

sigh, I wish I didn’t click on that video. best wishes to Richards and hope for a speedy recovery.

Westside guy
Member
Member
Westside guy
2 years 1 month ago

I read about the injury, but so far have successfully avoided any video. It sounded pretty gruesome, and I’m trying to avoid feeding into the already voyeuristic proclivities of the news media.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
2 years 1 month ago

Maybe it is just as bad, but I appreciate hearing details on what the injury looks like. I don’t want to watch a leg bend in a disgusting, unnatural manner, but if that is what happened, just saying so seems like a better approach. I want the information, but there is no way in hell I’m watching the video.

emdash
Guest
emdash
2 years 1 month ago

The injury itself wasn’t that gruesome – it looked almost like his lower leg had just gone numb. The hard to watch part was the obvious, awful pain he was in.

Johnston
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

It’s not bad. You’ll wince and feel for the guy, but it’s just a ruptured tendon, not a compound fracture.

Ed
Guest
Ed
2 years 1 month ago

Could Bartolo Colon be a cheap, short-term fix here?

red
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red
2 years 1 month ago

Hes not cheap next year

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
2 years 1 month ago

I agree that he’s not really cheap, but he’s not expensive either. $11MM isn’t bad on a one-year contract. He’s old and he’s fat, but from a performance perspective, similar players sign in excess of $50MM for 4 years. I’d take him and his contract over the Nolasco’s and Jiminez’s of the world.

LaLoosh
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

at this point, the Mets prob hang on to Colon and deal him next year if the pitching surplus they appear to be building is real. Who knows whether Harvey has a setback or not? And they seem to be on track to deal a young starter like possibly Montero in their quest for a SS anyway.

It isn’t like they’ll get much more than the salary relief for moving Colon. The Angels system doesn’t have an abundance of options to sift thru anyway.

LaLoosh
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

Other thing is that Niese has already cleared waivers iirc. I could see him possibly moved as much as I could see Colon.

AdropOFvenom
Guest
AdropOFvenom
2 years 1 month ago

Even without Harvey in the mix, the Mets have potentially 7 SP’s they could call on now (Wheeler, deGrom, Niese, Gee, Colon, Montero, Syndergaard), they don’t even really need Colon as insurance. They won’t let him go for nothing, but a respectable offer for a pitcher of his caliber and he’s gone.

LaLoosh
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

Mazzoni and Bowman will be in the mix next year also.

My point was that if they deal a pitcher like Montero to get a SS in winter and have with some normal pitcher attrition (or Harvey setback) *and* deal Colon or Niese now, then they won’t look so deep anymore.

Assume next year the rotation might be:

Harvey
Wheeler
Colon/Niese (one of)
deGrom
Gee
——–
Noah
Mazzoni
Bowman

assumes trade of Montero in winter and either Colon or Niese in waiver deal. They could deal Colon/Niese next July in that scenario too if not now.

KCDaveInLA
Guest
KCDaveInLA
2 years 1 month ago

Made all the worse since Jered Weaver’s slide into mediocrity was definitely not expected, and CJ Wilson not pitching to expectations, and no one decent to call up from the minors. I feel really bad for the Angels.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
2 years 1 month ago

Weaver has out-pitched his peripherals for a long time, so in that sense you could say it was expected, though he’s still out-pitching them a bit this year. He’s also steadily declined a little bit every year since 2010. And he’s nearly 32. In hindsight I don’t find it too surprising.

Slugerrr
Guest
Slugerrr
2 years 1 month ago

I don’t feel bad for any large market team.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 1 month ago

“I feel really bad for the Angels.”

I feel worse for teams with no payoff prospects, more than the ones with very real playoff possibilities and realistic chances of winning the WS.

Cordially,
A Jays fan always looking forward to football at this time of year for the last 20 years (and counting!)

J.C. Watts
Guest
J.C. Watts
2 years 1 month ago

That one Bills game is worth the wait.

Fleck Statue
Guest
Fleck Statue
1 year 9 months ago

Don’t feel bad. The Angels won 98 games. Best record in baseball.

Fleck Statue
Guest
Fleck Statue
1 year 9 months ago

Don’t feel bad. The Angels won 98 games and had the best record in baseball.

Matthew Murphy
Member
2 years 1 month ago

Important to remember that the A’s are 1.5 games behind the Angels, and could potentially block any pitcher (Colon, Burnett) who goes through waivers, albeit with the risk of having to take on the player’s salary if the team is willing to dump them for nothing.

Tim
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

AJB is already through waivers Colon is not

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
2 years 1 month ago

I doubt seriously the A’s would be willing to take on the salary required to block Colon.

Johnston
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

Yes, Colon blockage can be dangerous and expensive.

Bill
Guest
Bill
2 years 1 month ago

That was Billy Beane’s masterful plan all along. Losing games is the new market inefficiency.

T-Bone
Guest
T-Bone
2 years 1 month ago

Actually, the Richards injury (in addition to the Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin injuries) is precisely why B.B. has been stocking up on starting pitching.

He has Jesse Chavez and Drew Pomeranz available if someone in the rotation goes down (or if Hammel doesn’t wake up), and he was able to deal Milone for an OF when he needed one.

Garret
Guest
Garret
2 years 1 month ago

Huge loss. Just when things were finally going right for the Angels this happened.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
2 years 1 month ago

I’d be interested in knowing how much of the later playoff round reductions in odds are due to the fact they are less likely to win the division as opposed to not having Richards for those series.

Kevin
Guest
Kevin
2 years 1 month ago

I don’t understand why Chris Young is mentioned up there. Are we really supposed to believe that a guy with 5+ ERA and FIP projections ROS from both ZiPS and Steamer is going to be an asset to help right the ship if Felix goes down?

Suzyn Waldman
Guest
Suzyn Waldman
2 years 1 month ago

ROGER CLEMENS is in Arte Moreno’s BOX!!

BAH GAWD!!!!

LaLoosh
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

LOL.

John Sterling
Guest
John Sterling
2 years 1 month ago

Well you know Suzyn, that’s just baseball. You never know.

Andre the Angels Fan
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

FML

Ferguson Looter
Guest
Ferguson Looter
2 years 1 month ago

Jeff’s numbers seem pretty accurate. 5 WAR pitcher, missing 1/5 of the season so the Angels can expect to lose one win over the rest of the season if Richards is replaced with a replacement level type pitcher.

The big hurt will be in the fight for the division with Oakland and then winning any playoff series they happen to advance to.

Erik Hanson's Curve
Guest
Erik Hanson's Curve
2 years 1 month ago

The big question is, how does this effect the Seattle Mariners.

Johnston
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

Wait, what?

LaLoosh
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

AJ Burnett has NTC blocking 20 clubs which includes the Angels so you can prob strike that possibility. Mets could be in driver’s seat on this one.

just mr
Guest
just mr
2 years 1 month ago

Yeah, but as starred above, AJB is 37 years old and likely retiring. I’ve got to think he’d gladly waive his no trade for a chance to pitch for a WS caliber team… rather than play out the string on a going nowhere fast Phils team.

He seems a competitive guy. The kind that would jump at that opportunity. I’d be surprised and disappointed if he didn’t.

So, I wouldn’t be in a hurry to exclude him as a trade possibility.

LaLoosh
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

I wouldn’t count on that. Staying close to his Maryland home seemed critical to his decision to pitch this year.

Dovif
Guest
Dovif
2 years 1 month ago

I do not think he will retire and walk away from 12 min for working 32 days in a year

just mr
Guest
just mr
2 years 1 month ago

Stated. Not “starred”. Stupid autocorrect.

hookstrapped
Guest
hookstrapped
2 years 1 month ago

Ubaldo Jimenez might be available

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