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Halo Effect: Richards' turn to step up

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Angels will replace Joe Blanton in the rotation with Garrett Richards. Is it too little, too late?

The Joe Blanton experiment will move to the bullpen after he lost his third straight start and league-leading 13th overall on Monday. Garrett Richards will get Blanton’s former spot in the Angels' rotation. But how big of an upgrade will Richards be?

Unlucky or just bad?

This season Blanton has given up a home run on nearly 18 percent of opponent fly balls. That’s more than one in every six. Among qualified starters, only Roberto Hernandez has given up the long ball at a higher rate.

Switching Roles

This Season

Blanton’s home run rate is the worst in his career, so you could definitely chalk part of that up to bad luck. What is troublesome is the OPS that opponents have against Blanton this season. That number sits at .899 -- by far the worst mark in baseball.

The move to the bullpen could be beneficial. In Blanton’s first two innings of work this season, opponents are hitting .255. After that though, they are hitting .346.

Richards’ chance

Richards has made 71 appearances in the big leagues, 16 as a starter. Not surprisingly his splits favor his relief numbers, but the numbers are only marginally better.

In fact, unlike Blanton’s numbers this season, in Richards’ career starts he has a .287 opponents’ batting average in the first two innings of starts and a .253 average against after that.

This season, Richards’ most effective pitch has been his slider, which he throws 27 percent of the time. Opponents are hitting .197 against the pitch and have missed on 37 percent of swings against it (4 percentage points higher than league average).

Today’s matchup

Williams (LAA) vs Colon (OAK)

Bartolo Colon

Colon

Today the Angels face the tough task of slowing down the Bartolo Colon train. The Oakland Athletics righty has made 11 starts since turning 40 this season and has a 1.33 ERA in that span. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that is the lowest ERA by any pitcher in his first 11 starts after turning 40. The previous mark was 1.65 by Kenny Rogers.

In Colon’s last start he threw a four-hit shutout against the Angels. Colon did it by pounding his fastball, throwing it 101 times out of 116 pitches. Angels lefties went a combined 1-for-13 against Colon this past Sunday.