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Faster than a Speeding Bullet


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By Robert Cunningham, AngelsWin.com Staff Writer - 

First a trivia question: Who is the missing 10th member from the following list of 2013 starting pitchers?

FirstDeck.png

Perhaps the more important question is would you like to see the Angels acquire/sign the missing player based simply on the quality of the other names on that list?

Not convinced?

What if I also told you that the missing player gave up fewer home runs every 9 innings than Stephen Strasburg? Would that pique your interest?

No?

What if I also told you that the missing player walked fewer batters every 9 innings than Jose Fernandez? That should get you excited, right?

Still not there yet?

What if I also told you that the missing player has the highest groundball percentage out of that entire group? In fact out of all 139 pitchers that threw 100 innings or more last year, this pitcher has the 11th highest ground ball to fly ball ratio, making him a real groundball machine! That has to give you a warm-fuzzy right?

Give up?

The list above contains the names of the top 10 hardest thrown fastballs (vFA) by starting pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched in 2013 and the missing player is none other than our very own Garrett Richards!

Deck2.png


Garrett’s fastball (vFA) velocity is pretty elite and when you combine it with his hard slider (vSL), change-up (vCH), and curveball (vCU), along with low home run and walk rates, you have the ingredients for a quality starting pitcher.

Now Richards is still young and making adjustments to Major League hitters so the expectations should be tempered with the realization that Garrett still has a lot to learn. Garrett’s learning arc would best be served by a spot in the back-end of the rotation where the pressure to be “the guy” is reduced and he can just focus on making his pitches on a consistent basis.

Although the Angels should still approach their off-season with the goal of acquiring a front-of-the-rotation starter, the front office has to be pleased with Garrett’s potential and progress that he made last season and what it could mean for the team’s success in 2014.

For Garrett to really triumph he will really have to learn to trust the movement in all of his secondary pitches. Richards’s slider has solid wipeout potential and if he can increase the use and quality of his curveball, which has excellent vertical drop, along with even a merely average change-up he will be a force to be reckoned with on the mound.

One final detail is that Garrett will have to find a way to get left-handed hitters out on a more consistent basis. Over his Major League career LHH’s have gotten under the ball (home runs) nearly twice as much as RHH’s. This is why it would be important for Garrett to improve the quality and use of his change-up as it could help mitigate left-handed hitters and the damage they do against him.

2014 will be Garrett’s year to really shine and show what he can do in a full season of starts for the Halo’s. I for one don’t think he will disappoint!


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The positive development was with the control/command this past year. Definitely encouraged by that considering he does have a funky delivery that looks easy to get out of whack with. Next is figuring out how to get lefties out at a better clip. Improved changeup would go a long way in that, obviously...as the article says. Here's hoping he does take that next step. He has the best stuff in the rotation. Hell, he's got the best 2 pitch mix(fastball/slider) of anybody currently on the roster right now

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I think we see Richards give around 175 innings this year with a low-mid 4's ERA. A 2-2.5 WAR season from him would make me happy. 

 

That would be the low end of what he could do. I expect we'll see something a lot better from him, but like you I agree the Angels need a better supporting cast around Richards, Weaver and Wilson.

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I think we see Richards give around 175 innings this year with a low-mid 4's ERA. A 2-2.5 WAR season from him would make me happy. 

 

Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if he had an ERA under 4.00. Once they put him in the rotation for good and just let him start without worry of being jerked back and forth from reliever to starter, he put up a 3.59 ERA. He did have a 1.34 WHIP, which you'd like to see improvement on

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I think this article touches on a subject that not enough is being said about.  Yeah, the Angels do need a solid #2/3 SP and another #4/5, but let's not automatically assume Garrett Richards will pitch like a #5 SP even though he'll be slotted in the #5 spot.  I think we'll see 180 IP and a 3.50 ERA next season along with an uptick in K% and downturn in BB%. 

 

In fact, give it 2-3 years and I think Richards will be a staff ace. 

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I would really like to see 200 plus innings out of Richards in 33 starts. I know it sounds like a lot but that is only 6 innings per game. The expectations out of starters has decreased to the point people think 170 innings is good. Those are 5 inning guys that kill bullpens and require minor league pitchers to cover too many starts.

 

Some numbnutz here have given Wilson crap about his pitching but for the last 4 seasons he has averaged over 200 innings and 33 starts. That is giving the bullpen a chance to have matchups for fewer innings and the team a better chance of winning.

 

All of these pitchers that are signing multiyear contracts recently are 150-170 inning pitchers in their best seasons. I don't know what these GMs are thinking and how they intend on either filling those extra 4 innings a game or 8 starts a season but I do know they are over paying for players that don't give them a full measure of worth.

 

At age 42 Nolan Ryan started 32 games and logged 239 innings of work. I would hope 25 year old Richards could at least get to 200 innings.

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I think this article touches on a subject that not enough is being said about.  Yeah, the Angels do need a solid #2/3 SP and another #4/5, but let's not automatically assume Garrett Richards will pitch like a #5 SP even though he'll be slotted in the #5 spot.  I think we'll see 180 IP and a 3.50 ERA next season along with an uptick in K% and downturn in BB%. 

 

In fact, give it 2-3 years and I think Richards will be a staff ace. 

 

Come on man, I know you like Richards and all but there is a 0.01% chance he becomes a staff ace.

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Come on man, I know you like Richards and all but there is a 0.01% chance he becomes a staff ace.

why?  He's got ace stuff.  I am not saying it's a sure thing, but there is probably a 20% chance. 

 

once he stops being a slave to his mechanics and starts pitching he's gonna be very good.  Maybe his mechanics keep that from happening, but he filthy Scott.  You can't deny that. 

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2-3 years, Weaver's likely gone or done, Wilson will be in his mid-30's, Sappington and Roth are likely the only two homegrown pitchers with a reasonable shot at being in the rotation at that time.  Situationally speaking, he'll likely be a staff ace without the angels making a major trade or free agent signing.  

 

Add on top of that his fastball, movement, slider, curve, change up, projection....

 

It's most certainly within the realm of possibility. 

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93% of his pitches are either a fastball or slider.  His mechanics are pretty much a disaster, which leads to an unreapeatable release point:

 

2013&minmax=ci&var=x0

 

 

 

 

He's also never thrown more than 145 innings in his life and he'll soon be 26.  Nothing about him, besides his fan friendly depth-y curveball screams ace.  I see him as a 4-5 guy, maybe a 3 if the cookie crumbles the exact right way and he learns how to throw a changeup.

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93% of his pitches are either a fastball or slider.  His mechanics are pretty much a disaster, which leads to an unreapeatable release point:

 

2013&minmax=ci&var=x0

 

 

 

 

He's also never thrown more than 145 innings in his life and he'll soon be 26.  Nothing about him, besides his fan friendly depth-y curveball screams ace.  I see him as a 4-5 guy, maybe a 3 if the cookie crumbles the exact right way and he learns how to throw a changeup.

 

 

That first stat is massively cherry picked.  You know damn well that they cut him to two pitches when he was coming out of the pen.

 

As a starter, he threw the curve as well.  He's gonna need to work the change up in as well. 

 

That change in his horizontal release point was almost exactly when he became a starter.  here it is from july-sept when he was in the rotation.  It's a small sample, but you are acting like he's Rick Ankiel.  Also, he didn't pitch much in college so ramping him up thru the minors is pretty standard.  There are comments made all the time about the benefits of someone having low mileage on their arm.  Also lends to the fact that he's still learning.  I don't care if he's 26.  If he were 26 and had spend 8 years in the minors, then it would be an issue.  His fastball also has pretty nice movement and his slider has nice sharp break.  Even the limited times he shown the changeup its show some good tail away from lefties. 

 

2013&minmax=ci&var=x0

 

I'm no scout Scotty, but I have seen lots of pitchers over the years.  Not many have his stuff.  Do I think there is a good chance he becomes an ace?  Certainly not, but there is at least a decent chance. 

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Richards is one of the only pitchers int he Angels system I've ever seen that really made me giddy over his stuff.  Mid to High-90's heat is rare, but not too rare.  Putting movement on the pitch and incorprating a mid-90's two-seamer, that's rare.  A wipeout sider to go with this exceptional fastball looks is rare, but again, not too rare.  But also having a knee-buckling 12-6 curve to go with the sharp slider, that's rare.  Having a serviceable change up is just icing on the cake.  

 

Richards from an arsenal standpoint is a RARE pitcher.  He has four "plus" offerings in his 4-seamer, 2-seamer, slider and curve.  I don't think he's as good as Strasburg, Gerrit Cole, Jose Fernandez or Matt Harvey, but he excites me nonetheless. 

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Can we stop with the Richards being an ace talk until he actually pitches like an ace?  Come on.  

 

I hope Dipoto doesn't have the same mentality.

I don't think anyone has said Richards will be an ace in 2014 or even 2015.  I am saying by age 28/29 he could be.  Next year I could see him with 170ip and a 4.00 era although and he certainly shoudln't be counted on for any more than that.  He's basically a nice upgrade over one of Hanson, Blanton or Williams for next year.  Beyond that, we shall see. 

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That is great for the future (one of the very few things actually) but wont do much for next season except maybe give us a number 4 instead of a number 5.  We still need 2 starters.

I'd like to get two legit starters as well as a couple of projects.  The cumulative performance of our 4th-7th spots was the worst in baseball.  When you have two of the worst starter in the league and you can only replace them with someone of equal value, that's not good. 

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Good article, Robert. I'm quietly hoping that Garret performs like a #3 in 2014, with an ERA in the 3.50-4.00 range and 180+ innings. I think his upside is something like a #2 ala John Lackey in a good year or CJ Wilson. He's going to be 26 next year so its time for that potential to start showing itself.

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Come on man, I know you like Richards and all but there is a 0.01% chance he becomes a staff ace.

 

 

Richards is odd in that guys with his mix of heavy hard fastballs tend to be elite pitchers.  For whatever reasons, Richards had yet to limit hits or put up the K rates like you would expect from a guy with his stuff.  Command issues are the obvious culprit.

 

GR's top end is Brandon Webb -- whether or not he ever taps into his potential we don't know, but he's probably the best bet among Angels pitchers at having a truly break out season.

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