It’s no secret that the Angels are in dire need of bullpen assistance, but they may not have to search any further than their own backyard to locate the missing ingredient. The temporary answer to their main concern is sitting in the bullpen already.
After spending some time in Triple-A Salt Lake, Richards was promoted on August 22 (after Peter Bourjos was placed on the DL) and joined the Angels in Boston. Each appearance Richards had made since his recent promotion has been in the late innings of the game, to take care of a minimal amount of batters and a minimal amount of outs. Sweet relief. Could Scioscia be on to something?
As a starting pitcher, Richards became all too predictable: Two innings of Cy Young material and a collapse shortly after. Keeping a dominant Richards in the game for the long haul was proving to be a daunting task. Why not take those innings and place them where the Angels need them the most? Utilizing Richards as a reliever for the time being couldn’t actually hurt the Angels all that much. Look at the situation they’re in. With a bullpen consisting of Scott Downs (who has now been placed on MLB’s Family Medical Emergency List), Jason Isringhausen, Jordan Walden, LaTroy Hawkins and Kevin Jepsen…why not give the kid a chance?
Each one of these relievers has the potential to excel. Sounds like the story of the Angels’ 2012 season, doesn’t it? Downs hasn’t been the same since returning from the DL, Walden shows no sign of a comeback this season, Hawkins has his moments, and Isringhausen just makes me sad. I suppose I can leave Jepsen out of this bullpen reality check due to the fact that he has been the most beneficial reliever since the All Star Break.
Assuming he can handle the pressure that comes with being a relief pitcher, the Angels could use the two to three inning dominance that Richards displays, but this time, in the late innings. Whether Richards becomes a full time reliever or a simple experiment, it wouldn’t hurt to figure it out now. If the Angels are going to experiment anywhere, experiment in the bullpen. Please.
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