The Los Angeles Angels face a crucial season in 2014. Needing to answer for high-dollar contracts to C.J. Wilson, Albert Pujols, and Josh Hamilton, there has to be immense pressure internally to make the playoffs.
Richard Justice of MLB.com rounded up ten key players for the 2014 season, and he dubbed young pitcher Garrett Richards as the linchpin player for the Angels as they look ahead to their season in the tough AL West. Justice writes:
That means it’s time for Richards to establish himself once and for all as a quality Major League starter.”
Let’s back the train up. Do we think the Angels are “really” close? That places a lot of faith in Wilson’s stuff as a top-end starter, a designation he is probably on the fringe of at best, let alone the positive outcomes of Hamilton gaining weight. As for the pressure it places on Richards, the 25-year-old will have to turn things around pretty drastically after going 7-8 in 2013 with a 4.16 ERA and 1.35 WHIP.
Whether the Angels are close or not is debatable, but the importance of a young pitcher like Richards is not. The Angels, like many teams in the league, will be left asking “what if” about a key young starter entering the season.