The “electric” stuff of 24-year-old Garrett Richards has won the confidence of Angels Manager Mike Scioscia, who Saturday gave Richards Tuesday’s home start against the Kansas City Royals over slumping veteran Jerome Williams.
“I definitely get more confidence as I get more chances,” Richards said in the Angels Stadium tunnel between the clubhouse and dugout. “I feel good about what I’m doing. I’m repeating my delivery, trusting my stuff.”
The Angels have won in five of Richards’ six starts. The 2009 first-round draft pick from Oklahoma pitched seven shutout innings Tuesday in Detroit, and Richards (3-1, 3.53 earned-run average) delivered eight shutout innings June 17 against Arizona.
“Garrett’s not a finished product,” Scioscia said, a nod to Richards giving up 12 combined earned runs in back-to-back starts against Toronto and Baltimore within the last month. “But he has an electric arm.”
Williams (6-7, 4.85) has struggled in five consecutive losses. The 30-year-old right-hander won his first five starts at home, but then suffered breathing problems in a June 18 home loss to his former team, the San Francisco Giants, and went to the disabled list. In two road losses since, he’s given up 16 hits and 10 runs.
“Jerome has to get back in touch with stuff … his ball’s up and he’s hitting the plate on bad counts,” Scioscia said.
Williams was available for bullpen use in Saturday afternoon’s game against the Texas Rangers, Scioscia said. With the July 31 trade deadline looming and the Angels inspecting starting pitchers like Tampa Bay’s James Shields, Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels and Milwaukee’s Zack Greinke, it’s uncertain how long Richards’ shelf life as the No. 5 starter will last.
“You never know,” Scioscia said. “You hope a guy takes it and runs with it. If you have to adjust down the road, you adjust.”