Los Angeles Angels: Garrett Richards Cleared to Throw

Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

After deciding to take an alternative route to the dreaded Tommy John surgery, Los Angeles Angels’ ace Garrett Richards has begun a throwing program roughly three months after his injury.

Deciding to take an alternative route to Tommy John surgery, Garrett Richards has seen significant improvement, beginning a throwing program a little over three months after being placed on the disabled list.

Richards, the ace of the Los Angeles Angels, was placed on the 15-day DL in early May after suffering a torn right ulnar collateral ligament. Originally expected to undergo surgery and miss the rest of 2016 and 2017, Richards opted for an alternative route.

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The right-hander received a stem-cell injection and was shut down for six weeks. He showed significant improvement from that injection and, after another injection on August 3, is believed to have avoided the dreaded Tommy John surgery.

He was cleared on August 15 to begin a throwing program, making 25 throws from 45-feet the same day.

If Richards were to return to the majors and avoid surgery, stem-cell research may quite possibly become a go-to option for many pitchers with similar injuries. Because of his quick improvement, Richards may be able to pitch in the fall league – sooner than if he opted for surgery.

The six-year vet has been with the Angels his entire career, proving to be a front-line starter in 2014, where he went 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. He also boasted an 8.8 K/9 ratio and walked a career low 2.7 BB/9.

The following year he took a step back, but still was one of Los Angeles’ best, posting a 3.65 ERA and 15 wins. But, he also took a step forward, pitching in 32 games, six more than 2014.

In 2016, Richards was headlining a rotation that, along with its hitting, was expected to compete for a playoff spot (finished three games out of division and one of Wild Card last season). However, this would go south for the Angels.

Just six starts into the year, Richards experienced fatigue and missed his next scheduled start. Then, on May 6, it was found out that the 28-year-old tore his right ulnar collateral ligament. Through his first six starts, Richards was having another dominant season, throwing to the tune of a 2.34 ERA and 8.8 K/9 ratio.

Opting for an alternative route has proven to be successful, to date, for Richards, as he is still hoping to avoid Tommy John surgery. He will still miss the rest of the 2016 season which is no blow to the Angels who are 19 games under .500 and dead last in the American League West.

Next: New York Yankees: Nathan Eovaldi to undergo Tommy John surgery

Richards is not completely out of the clear, but it seems as though he avoided the dreaded Tommy John surgery and will be back to lead the Los Angeles Angels in 2017.