Jered Weaver's fractured left elbow -- not to mention Richards' individual talent -- means the 24-year-old right-hander will start on Saturday against the Astros and, assuming he holds his own, remaining in the rotation while Weaver misses the next four to six weeks.
Once Weaver returns, Richards figures to return to the bullpen -- though a lot can change by then.
"Long term," Richards said, "I think that they want me to be a starter. This is unfortunate for Jered and what happened, but they're going to ask me to step in, so I'm going to step in and do my job."
Going back and forth isn't ideal for a young pitcher's arm and can stunt development, but the Angels don't feel it's an issue if it's only one time. Richards was stretched out during Spring Training, throwing about 90 pitches in his final outing in Arizona and finishing with a 1.45 ERA in 18 2/3 innings.
He was put in a relief role in the last weekend of exhibition games, then made four appearances out of the bullpen in the first week of the regular season, giving up a run in 4 1/3 innings. But Richards said he's still capable of throwing 100 pitches if needed and believes going back to starting can be an easy one.
"This isn't going to be a big change," Richards said. "Pitching is pitching."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. Reporter Richard Justice contributed. AJ Cassavell contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.