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Garrett Richards is bringing some serious heat, and that’s seriously good news for the Angels

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Angels at Los Angeles Dodgers Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

Garrett Richards was on the bump for the Halos in Tempe today, and he was throwing some missiles out there. In his four innings out on the mound (64 pitches), Richards gave up five hits and three earned runs to the cactus league Rockies. The heat was the story of the day, and I do not mean in terms of the Arizona weather. I’m referring to G-Rich’s cannon

Richards is a gigantic linchpin on the 2017 Angels, as even the most casual of fans could probably tell you; they/we need him to shred this season. So, what does Garrett Richards shredding look like? Well, it’d sure have a lot of fastballs. The strategy is kind of simple, but nonetheless true...the more he resembles a human flame thrower out there, the more success he shall have.

So, that’s why we’re all excited about the beautiful velocity we saw out of Richards today, as it emboldens everybody’s inner fan to think “He’s healthy, he’s over that injury, he is going to win the freakin’ Cy Young”. I’m right there with you, dude. Seeing stuff like this gives me a surge of excitement:

At one point, according to Statcast, G-Rich even smoked one pitch for 98.5 MPH!!!!

So yeah, I’m feeling good about Garrett Richards in ‘17 right now; confidence in such an important piece of my hypothetical, crystal gazing, wishcasting October playoff scripts is most welcome thing right now. I am enraptured by the velocity, drunk on that G-Rich MPH, and obsessed with that speed. 98.5 MPH!!!

Richards has never quite cracked 100 MPH, but he’s thrown 98 MPH or faster 105 times in his career. Well, that’s counting just regular season games. In fact, here are his ten fastest pitches in regular season games, so far:

Garrett Richards fastest pitches

Date Pitch MPH
Date Pitch MPH
9/14/2015 4-seam 99.03
08/04/2014 4-seam 99
08/04/2014 4-seam 99
08/04/2014 2-seam 99
07/24/2014 4-seam 99
07/06/2014 4-seam 99
08/04/2014 4-seam 98.9
08/04/2014 4-seam 98.9
08/04/2014 4-seam 98.9
07/24/2014 4-seam 98.9

Like I mentioned, that’s regular season only. According to that previously-linked tweet, he hit 99.54 MPH in a spring game last year. But other than that, he’s got the above list of fiery pitches as notches in his belt.

But I also wanted to check out what his fastball velocity has looked like over the years, by each inning. According to Statcast, in his regular season career, his fastball has averaged 95.79 MPH in the 1st inning; 95.62 MPH in the 2nd; 95.55 MPH in the 3rd; 95.47 MPH in the 4th; and 95.09 MPH in the 5th. I am sensing a pattern here, are you?

Today, his fastball was never dipping below 95, in any of the four innings he pitched, as he was throwing some legit fire. A few more appearances will give us a better picture, of course, but Richards seems to be feeling OK and there’s reason to believe he can deliver the goods come Opening Day. And remember, he’s now getting strength tested after every start, just like other Angels starting pitchers.

The thought of yet another freak injury is the only worry in my head, and that is definitely less rational than any actual, real baseball analysis, and it’s more just residue from the worried phases of the Angels’ 2016 season. But that’s where the Angels’ new focus on strength tests and closely monitoring arms comes in to play, and lessens that worry.

So the man is bringing the heat, and I’m bringing the popcorn to his next start, because I want to see some more of that glorious, powerful fastball. There’s a lot riding on it, after all.