The Los Angeles Angels return from a tough road trip with another difficult situation to manage.
With Garrett Richards headed for season-ending elbow surgery, the Angels may have to lean even more heavily on Mike Trout's hot bat Friday night against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Richards had already been scratched for Friday's opener of this three-game series due to arm fatigue, but his condition turned out to be far worse than expected when another exam reportedly revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow that will require Tommy John surgery.
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Richards, 29-19 with a 3.11 ERA in 64 starts since 2014, joins C.J. Wilson, Andrew Heaney and Tyler Skaggs as rotation members currently sidelined.
With the struggling Matt Shoemaker optioned to Triple-A last week, Los Angeles (13-15) will use a committee headed by Cory Rasmus on Friday.
Rasmus (0-1, 4.40 ERA) made six late-season starts in 2014 and one last season, allowing two runs over three innings against the Dodgers on Aug. 2.
The Angels are in a better state hitting-wise, having batted .329 with 25 runs in the last four of a six-game trip. They lost four of the first five games until Trout's leadoff homer ignited a four-run eighth inning in Wednesday's 7-3 comeback win at Milwaukee.
Trout went 7 for 13 with seven RBIs in the three-game series and is hitting .407 with six homers and 18 RBIs over his last 14 games.
''Yeah, I feel good at the plate,” said Trout, who opened the season in a 5-for-27 slump. “I just made some slight adjustments. I'm getting the foot down. I'm seeing pitches like I should be and not missing pitches.''
Trout is 0 for 7 in the past two seasons against Chris Archer (1-4, 5.01), who has delivered back-to-back strong starts after going 0-4 with a 7.32 ERA over his first four. After striking out 10 over 6 2/3 innings of a 2-0 win over Baltimore on April 25, the 2015 All-Star yielded one hit – a two-run homer to Jose Bautista – through six in Saturday's no-decision against Toronto.
He's 4-1 with a 2.97 ERA in five lifetime meetings with Los Angeles and was dominant in his most recent Angel Stadium appearance, striking out a career-high 15 over eight innings of a 6-1 win June 2.
Tampa Bay (12-14) also has lost four of six and comes in off a strong offensive display, homering four times in Wednesday's 8-5 victory over the Dodgers. Though last in the AL with a .224 average, the Rays have matched a club record with 34 homers in 26 games.
Steve Pearce had a three-run homer and Brandon Guyer added a solo shot Wednesday. Pearce is 4 for 8 with two homers over his last two games, and Guyer is hitting .406 over his last 10, but both have been part-time players this season.
“They're really igniting us right now,” manager Kevin Cash said. “They're making some decisions difficult, how we'll have to factor in just continuing to get them into the lineup. Because they're picking up the offense quite a bit.”
The teams split six 2015 matchups, with the Rays winning two of three in Anaheim last June.