I wrote this whole thing without a funny intro, and I like funny intros. I'm sad that I can't think of one, and you should be sad too, because my funny intros are gold.
Anyway, after this week, these are the next few teams on the Angels' schedule:
May 7-9: Astros
May 10-12: White Sox
May 13-15: Royals
May 16-19: White Sox
May 21-22: Mariners
May 23-26: Royals
May 27-30: Dodgers
May 31-June 3: Astros
June 4-5: Cubs
I don't necessarily like listing schedules, but good lord, if you were a pitcher, that group is your wet dream. That group has averaged 91 runs per team so far this season, less than 4 per game. The league average is about 15 more runs per team. In fact, the only team on the list that, as of Tuesday morning, has topped 100 runs so far is Houston, and, though they might be able to score a little, a pitcher is going to get some strikeouts against that offense. What I'm saying is, if you own C.J. Wilson, you're going to have a good few weeks. Heck, Jered Weaver is likely to be back for the tail end of that run, and he's going to reap the benefits.
Behind them, there are...let's be generous and say question marks in the Angels rotation. Joe Blanton is - somehow - still looking for his first 1-2-3 inning this season. Like, seriously, he hasn't had a hitless inning in 2013. It's May now, and he hasn't had a hitless inning in 2013. That ought to be impossible, or at least get the nickname of the Joe Saunders Special. Jason Vargas and Tommy Hanson are fine, serviceable, but they are known names. Their reputation is exactly what they are. You aren't going to sneak them by anyone.
There is another starter in the rotation. He started in the bullpen, but Garrett Richards moved into the rotation when Weaver got hurt, and he's made...well, if not the most of the opportunity, per se, he has made the majority of it. That is, if you'll allow me to screw with that particular aphorism.
Richards has, in seven appearances (three starts) this year, managed a 3.65 ERA. That includes a stellar, eight-strikeout, zero-walk, seven-shutout-inning start against a strong Detroit lineup April 20. His ground-ball rate is up and his BABIP is down in these super-small samples, but his walk rate has also lowered, and it is more in line with his minor-league numbers, indicating (possibly; it's still a small sample) that he might have figured out his primary bugaboo from his previous big-league experience.
Richards isn't ever going to strike out a guy an inning. You're hoping, usually, for 6-7 innings, 1-3 runs, and a pretty good WHIP. That's not going to anchor any fantasy staffs, but, if he can keep that up, he's not going to make you sad, either. You don't like being sad. You want to be happy.
And remember, he and his team are facing a lot of you-can't-hit offenses (offensive offenses? That sounds fun, but it's probably not that clever). My advice? Grab Richards now, hope he pitches to his potential against these crappy teams over the next few weeks. In the middle of June, the Angels start to play the AL East and its potent offenses again, and you see if Richards has built up enough value that you can flip him.
It's not foolproof. When you're digging this deep, nothing is. But danged if I wouldn't want to own the pitcher who gets to face the AL Central, the Astros and their ilk. Fun times, that.
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