Los Angeles Angels Garrett Richards is on the mend from his UCL tear in his right elbow. Richards had stem-cell platelet injections into his elbow back in late May and so far all the results have been very positive.
However, I hate to be a Negative Nancy, but how likely is it that we will see Garrett Richards on the mound to start the 2017 season?
Richards rehabilitation has been going surprisingly well so far. Last week he actually threw 55 pitches in an Arizona Instructional League game and passed the test with flying colors. Everything is pointing to him being fully recovered and ready for the 2017 season.
But, and this is a huge but. With what little we knew about stem-cell therapy and its long-term effectiveness, will Richards be the same pitcher he was before the injury. If not, how long will it take for him to be fully back to his old self, if ever.
I really like Garrett Richards and want him to have a long and successful career hopefully all in an Angel uniform. But there is a part of me that is skeptical of this procedure and if the UCL grow back as strong as if Richards had had Tommy John Surgery. Not only that, but as we saw with Tyler Skaggs and C.J. Wilson timetables are not always accurate and setbacks can happen multiple times during the rehab process.
Richards has been a real trooper through everything he has had to endure in the past couple of seasons. First in 2014 he tore his left patella tendon covering first base and had to rehab his knee back to health. Now this UCL tear in 2016. Richards came back strong from his patella tendon tear, although he was back a month later than expected.
So will Richards again come back strong with his mid-to-high 90’s fastball he has possessed so far in his career. Lord knows the Angels need Richards in the worst way if they hope to even think about contending for an AL West title in 2017. The pitching staff has been decimated by injuries and as of this moment only has four healthy starters with any big league experience signed for the 2017 season. Matt Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs, Ricky Nolasco, and Alex Meyer.
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The Angels could always comb the free agent market for a starter to plug into the rotation or make a trade for one as well. However, if Richards is healthy and ready to go in early April the need for making a desperate move is diminished.
The Angels could also choose to re-sign Jered Weaver or Jhoulys Chacin, or even Daniel Wright to fill the role of the fifth starter if Richards is not ready right away. Nate Smith one of the Angels top pitching prospects, will also assuredly get a chance to crack the rotation at some point. It will be interesting to see what the Angels do this winter. Stay Tuned.
Here is hoping Garrett Richards rehab stays on track and we see good ol’ #43 on the mound come next April.