The past five times Angels pitcher Garrett Richards has started a game, he's earned a win.
Over his past eight starts, he's allowed more than one earned run twice. Those times, he allowed two and three runs. He's striking out batters. He's preventing big hits. He's leading his team to wins.
Overall, he has an 11-2 record with a 2.55 earned-run average. But somehow, someway, he's not an All-Star. It's simply difficult to believe for a pitcher that, according to Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan, has the lowest slugging percentage against in big leagues.
Richards was part of MLB's Final Vote, but lost the fan voting to White Sox pitcher Chris Sale. The teams were announced on Thursday. Richards pitched Friday night and threw a shutout over seven innings in response.
"I'll probably end up carrying that with me the rest of the year," Richards told MLB.com after that win. "It might be some motivation for the whole year."
Richards has reason to be miffed. It's hard to imagine those numbers aren't good enough to make the team. His manager and teammates agree.
“Garrett has perspective, he has focus. It’s disappointing when maybe you don’t get the recognition you deserve, and he certainly deserves it. But he also understands the selection process, and though it’s not perfect, it’s the system we have now. He’s an All-Star in our minds, no doubt about it. He’s having an incredible first half, and hopefully he’ll pick it up right after the break.”
"I wanted him to go [to Minnesota for the All-Star Game]. The numbers show he deserved it. I'm disappointed. He should be there. He's going to pitch in the second half with a chip on his shoulder. He's nasty enough as it is."
Richards is having an All-Star season. They are right.
Part of the problem is that he never has before. He doesn't have the name power or reputation Sale has, and part of the All-Star process is about bringing big names in to grab the fans' attention.
In his two full major league seasons, Richards has posted a 4-3 record with a 4.69 ERA and a 7-8 record with a 4.16 ERA.
This year, those numbers are significantly different and so are the lesser known numbers. Like slugging percentage against and WHIP, which currently sits at 1.06 after being 1.56 and 1.34 the past two seasons.
He's in the top 10 in a lot of categories, including ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, home runs and hits per nine innings and ERA-Plus and FIP.
With a player like Richards, he could continue to improve. Or, he could regress to being what he was before. You never know if this was the best All-Star Game shot he would ever have.
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