Everything was going great for the Angels, and then their ace Garrett Richards suffered what looks to be a very serious knee injury.
Richards entered Wednesday’s start with a 13-4 record and 2.53 ERA plus was squarely in the AL’s Cy Young Award race. He had struck out 164 batters in 167 innings and had the lowest home runs yielded per nine innings pitched (0.267) in the majors.
“Our heart goes out to him,” catcher Chris Iannetta said. “We know how much this run meant to him and how much the season has meant to him. He’s been great for us the whole year.”
Here is the good news: the loss of Richards means little for the rest of the regular season.
According to ZiPs rest-of-season projections, Richards was projected to be worth 0.4 WAR, or slightly less than half of a win relative to a replacement-level starting pitcher, over the rest of the 2014 regular season. If that sounds low for a Cy Young candidate remember that he was scheduled to have just six more starts in 37 total games remaining. The Angels have a .559 win percentage in games not started by Richards, so they can still add 20 to 21 more wins by the end of the year, giving them between 95 and 96 total. That is certainly good enough to make the playoffs. Fangraphs projects their odds to win the division drop by 7.5 percentage points, but their chances to win the Wild Card improve by 6.8 percentage points.
Now the bad news: here is how their rotation will look for the postseason.
I don’t know if that’s the worst rotation in MLB, but it does look like it could be a contender.