Back in 2015, the Los Angeles Angels appeared to have found the two young aces to lead their staff for the next decade in Andrew Heaney and Garrett Richards. The pair — Heaney the lefty and Richards the righty — combined to go 21-16 with ERAs solidly below 4.00. Since that season, however, Heaney and Richards have combined to make a grand total of 18 MLB appearances while battling a series of arm injuries.
Both are finally healthy this year and penciled in atop the Los Angeles rotation. The Angels fully expect Heaney and Richards to make it through the season unscathed, and that will have to happen if the team is to make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2014.
At their best, Heaney and Richards are a strong duo to lead a rotation that will also include Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani will need to be brought along slowly while he adjusts to pitching in his new league and juggles hitting duties.
A strong return for the former prized prospects would be more than enough to push the Angels back into the playoffs. Richards and Heaney have both pitched well in Spring Training so far, and it might finally be safe to raise expectations of getting a full season out of both. Without both pitchers making at least 30 starts, the Angels will be forced to fall back on a very uninspiring bunch, which would be more than enough to sink their playoff hopes in a very competitive division.