News of the Garrett Richards injury, on top of the others that have hit the Los Angeles Angels’ rotation, surely gave some with the Texas Rangers a flashback to 2014 — even if only briefly.
Richards, the Angels’ staff ace, needs Tommy John surgery for a torn ulnar collateral ligament. The injury stands as the worst to hit the Angels this season, so far, and also is the biggest and perhaps final blow to their playoff chances.
Even in early May.
Left-hander Andrew Heaney is trying to avoid Tommy John surgery by rehabbing his torn UCL. It worked out so well for Neftali Feliz and Yu Darvish.
C.J. Wilson’s shoulder has him on the 60-day disabled list and trying to reinvent himself. Good luck with that.
Still-young Tyler Skaggs was working his way back from Tommy John surgery before being diagnosed a week ago with biceps tendinitis.
4 Starting pitchers for the Angels who are on either the 15-day or 60-day disabled list
Richards, Heaney, the Ceej and Skaggs might be more significant pitching losses than the Rangers had in 2014 — five months without Derek Holland, four without Martin Perez, two without Darvish and three with Colby Lewis learning how to pitch on a fake hip.
But the Angels’ current plight is nothing when the Rangers throw in four months without Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland, a season without Jurickson Profar and four months of Shin-Soo Choo playing with an ankle and an elbow that both would require surgery.
Only slightly less painful were the players brought in as replacements.
So, the Rangers feel the pain currently being felt by Angels players, executives and fans. They do. It stinks losing pitcher after pitcher, but just wait until the injury bug catches up to a significant position player.
The Rangers, though, also know that no one felt sorry for them in 2014. No opponent took it easy on a team that by mid-June was essentially holding tryouts for next season, and those tryouts didn’t produce much.
Ryan Rua is on the major league roster. So is Phil Klein. Nick Martinez was the star of the tryout camp, and he’s in Triple A. Miles Mikolas is a star in Japan, but he’s nursing a shoulder injury. Lefty Aaron Poreda was Mikolas’ teammate then and now with the Yomiuri Giants.
Outfielder Jim Adduci is a star in Korea. Outfielders Jake Smolinski and Daniel Robertson are in Triple A, for Oakland and Seattle. First baseman Carlos Peña is a TV analyst. Third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff hurt his back and has never been heard from again.
He’s not the only one.
The Angels aren’t approaching anything that resembles a tryout for 2017. It’s a good thing, too, because their farm system is the game’s worst.
They should be competitive with a lineup that includes Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. But they can’t pitch, and neither can anyone in the farm system.
There’s a reason why Martinez is in the minors when he could be in the Rangers’ bullpen. If someone in the Rangers’ rotation gets hurt, they have quality fill-in options at Round Rock.
The Angels have Kyle Kendrick.
To fill Richards’ void, the Angels are expected to recall Matt Shoemaker, who opened the season in their rotation but was demoted last weekend with a 9.15 ERA. That’s not hat-sized. That’s shoe-sized.
The Angels are considering pulling someone else off the scrap heap, such as Tim Lincecum, John Danks or Tommy Milone. They could try to make a trade, though that miserable farm system isn’t going to help them any and neither will the suddenly tight hip pocket of owner Arte Moreno.
These Angels could be morphing into the 2014 Rangers, who understand what the Angles are going through. Just don’t expect the Rangers, or anyone else, to feel sorry them.