Numbers game could force Richards to Minors

Numbers game could force Richards to Minors

Numbers game could force Richards to Minors
TORONTO -- Garrett Richards may have extended his tenure in the Major Leagues, but he hasn't escaped the cruel numbers game that still points unfavorably in his direction.

It turns out that the lack of starting pitching depth the Angels have outside their active roster could push Richards back to the Minor Leagues once Jerome Williams returns from the disabled list. But a lot can change until then, and Williams, who threw a bullpen session at Rogers Centre on Thursday, will make at least two Minor League rehab starts before rejoining the Angels.

But the Angels' best chance of maximizing their rotation depth is to put Williams back in and keep Richards stretched out with the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees, regardless of how well he pitches.

Williams is out of options and, as manager Mike Scioscia pointed out, would quickly lose his length as a starter if confined to the bullpen. And there's little use putting Richards in an undefined bullpen role, either.

"I think our bullpen is developing some depth," Scioscia said. "What we don't have is, from an organizational viewpoint, starting pitching depth outside of the six terrific starters we have here."

Six quality starters is a fantastic luxury -- and one the Blue Jays must envy -- but despite getting Trevor Bell and Brad Mills back in the Triple-A rotation recently, the Angels don't have much more in their farm system in case something happens in the big leagues. That's where Richards could come in.

Williams, on the DL after an asthma attack following his June 18 start against the Giants, has pitched better than his 4.46 ERA would indicate. But Richards, who initially took Jered Weaver's spot in the rotation and stayed when Williams went on the shelf, has been lights out, giving up five earned runs in 27 2/3 innings.

"You have to look at every avenue," Scioscia said. "Before Jerome had [his breathing problems], he pitched some good baseball for us, and Garrett has pitched terrific baseball also. It's not a bad position to be in when you have that kind of depth from a starting staff. Again, we have a little bit of time for that one, and we'll keep evaluating where Jerome is and where our rotation is."