No, this is not a repeat.
Yes, this situation presented itself before, when Richards came up in late May and pitched brilliantly while Jered Weaver was on the disabled list. But eventually it resolved itself. Williams was placed on the DL with an asthma attack shortly after Weaver got healthy, Richards struggled in his extended tryout and Williams got his rotation spot back upon returning.
Now, with Dan Haren likely getting activated for Sunday's series finale, the Angels find themselves in a similar predicament for Tuesday.
Do they give the ball to Williams, who is out of options but has gone 0-5 with a 7.53 ERA over his last five starts?
Do they go with the young Richards, who bounced back from recent struggles with seven shutout innings in Tuesday's blowout against the Tigers?
(Or will they have acquired a new starting pitcher by that point?)
"We'll have a decision on who's going to start on Tuesday," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "But moving forward, if we have good arms, whether they're in our rotation or in our 'pen, you want to keep them. Whatever decision we make, it's good to have two arms like Jerome and Garrett up here that can help you to create a little bit of depth, both in your rotation and your bullpen."
Scioscia has said in the past that he'd prefer that the 24-year-old Richards continue to start, be it in the big leagues or in Triple-A. If he sticks with that plan, and wants to keep both on the roster, then it'd be Williams going to the bullpen, where he's made 10 of his 101 career appearances in the Majors.
Putting the 30-year-old Williams on waivers this time of year would almost guarantee that they'd lose him.
Richards, 3-1 with a 3.53 ERA in 43 1/3 big league innings, has the better stuff and the bigger upside. The argument in favor of Williams has always been his steady presence, but he's been far from that lately.
On Thursday, after giving up five runs in six innings during a loss against the Tigers, Williams was asked about the ongoing uncertainty surrounding his spot in the rotation.
"I'm not worried about that," he said. "All I'm worried about is trying to go out there and perform as best as I can. Whatever happens, happens. My job is to go out there and put up zeroes and keep the guys in the hunt for a win. That's all I'm worried about."