San Diego Padres News: Garrett Richards is most underrated starter

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /

Garrett Richards is entering his first full season since recovering from Tommy John surgery and could be the most underrated starter in the San Diego Padres rotation.

Garrett Richards hopped on The Darren Smith show on Monday to discuss his rehabilitation and his approach to entering his first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery. He signed a two-year deal with the San Diego Padres before the 2019 season and made his return to the mound on September 16.

He pitched 8.2 innings in three starts and spoke about how he feels heading into his first full season of being a big-league starter again (h/t to FriarsLounge for sending me this):

"“Physically, yeah I feel great,” Richards said. “I think during Spring Training, you’re fine-tuning some stuff, working on your delivery, and getting more consistent, just like everybody else. But as far as health goes, towards the end of the year, I was throwing the ball as good as I’ve ever thrown it in my life, as far as stuff goes and as far as all that.That’s another box that’s certainly checked off at the end of the year there, getting back to the ability of what I do. I’m really grateful for that and like I said, there’s a lot of hard work going into this year, and I feel more than ready to go.”"

I think we forget how dominant Garrett Richards was before his injuries. In 2013 and 2014, when he was with the Los Angeles Angels, he posted a 2.61 ERA in 26 starts and 3.65 ERA in 32 starts, respectively. He has the propensity to throw a few wild pitches, leading the American League in that category in 2014 and 2015, but gave up very few home runs.

It will be interesting to see how Richards performs in the rotation this season as he figures to slide into the two or three spot behind Chris Paddack and potentially Dinelson Lamet. If he’s feeling as good as he’s indicated, the acquisition could pay off tremendously this year and would make the Padres’ pitching staff that much stronger.

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Richards can also serve as a mentor for some of the younger guys, but he’s also started using Paddack’s changeup grip, so it goes both ways. And perhaps that’s why General Manager, AJ Preller has not yet moved Cal Quantrill in a trade because he’s essentially Richards’ insurance policy should injury concerns pop up again.