Los Angeles Angels pitcher Garrett Richards has opted to undergo Tommy John surgery after an MRI on Wednesday revealed damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, according to MLB.com's Maria Guardado.
He will miss the rest of the 2018 season and is aiming to return in 2020, per The Athetlic's Fabian Ardaya.
Richards had to leave Tuesday's start against the Seattle Mariners after just 2.2 innings because of forearm irritation, having allowed three runs on four hits. The team announced on Wednesday that the right-hander was presented with both conservative care and surgery as options but that no decision had been made as to which route would be pursued.
That decision has apparently been made one day later.
The 30-year-old was enjoying another nice season. In 16 starts, he had posted a 3.66 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP while striking out 87 in 76.1 innings. He was holding hitters to a .222 average.
Injuries have taken their toll on Richards in recent seasons. He was limited to just six starts in each of the past two years, as he dealt with a partially torn UCL in his right elbow in 2016 as well as nerve irritation in his right biceps in 2017.
"I'm very disappointed for him," Angels general manager Billy Eppler told Guardado. "Disappointed for the rest of the players in that locker room too that have wanted to see him be our ace, which he's shown at times but hasn't been able to show as much as he's wanted to and as much as we would take.
"I feel bad for him. I went and sat with him for a few innings last night just to be somebody there to talk to him. But yeah, this is a cross to bear. I know Garrett. I know Garrett's outlook, and I know the drive within him, so he'll get through it."
Richards will be a free agent after the season.
This is just the latest blow to a Los Angeles squad that has been decimated by injuries, especially the pitching staff. As Guardado notes, Richards is the sixth Angels pitcher to suffer a UCL injury this season, joining JC Ramirez, Blake Wood, Keynan Middleton, Shohei Ohtani and John Lamb. Ohtani is the only one who has not required Tommy John surgery (at least not yet), but he is limited to just hitting for the time being.