Richards, who has allowed just one run and walked zero batters in his last 15 innings, is 6-2 with a 3.09 ERA in his last 13 starts. He ranks ninth in the American League in ERA, fifth in WHIP (1.10), 10th in strikeouts (77) and fourth in fielding independent pitching (2.65), while allowing just two home runs in 81 2/3 innings.
Richards' catcher, Hank Conger, knows first-half surges, win totals and cache carry a lot of weight when it comes to being selected to the All-Star Game, but he said Richards has "the best stuff of anyone I've ever caught" and believes he's an All-Star starter nonetheless.
"Personally, for me, quality-wise and stuff-wise and everything, I think he's an All-Star pitcher, and that's just how I feel about it," Conger said. "I think by the time this season is over -- not to put pressure on him or anything -- you're going to look back at his numbers and you're going to be like, 'Wow. That's a really good season for a guy who's in his first year of being an everyday starter.'"
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.