Now, five days later, the day Richards should be taking the hill again, reports from Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, and confirmed by Richards' agent, show that the Angels' ace has a torn ulnar collateral ligament, and Tommy John surgery is "likely," according to GM, Billy Eppler.
"This is a total shock," said Angels manager, Mike Scioscia. "This was something that just surprised us all. We'll deal with it one step at a time."
For a team like the Angels, who have already taken the brunt of injuries to their rotation, this is by far the largest hit. They would lose their ace for the entire season, and likely into the 2017 campaign.
"Cory can be stretched out a little bit, he's probably close to 50 pitches, but we'll let him go as long as he can. Then we'll take it one step at a time."
A battle tested Angels rotation was expected to be of premier depth coming into the season, and now, are looking to every element they can in just holding a rotation with MLB experience.
Andrew Heaney was placed on the disabled list in early April with a left flexor muscle strain, and now, in the same report from Yahoo! Sports, there's concern about UCL damage. The team will try to avoid surgery, and take a "conservative route" in rehabbing his arm.
C.J. Wilson, another victim to the disabled list, did not pitch during Spring Training and was placed on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis in his throwing arm. It's expected he could return by June at the earliest.
Tyler Skaggs threw his first pitches in over a year during Spring Training, following Tommy John surgery himself in August of 2014, but was shut down within the last week due to bicep tendinitis. He won't throw until being re-evaluated later in the week.
In Triple-A, there are four potential options.
Matt Shoemaker was recently optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake, when his season began staring at a 9.15 ERA. He is allowed to be recalled due to the injury, as opposed to wait 10 days for an option period to end. He has yet to pitch for Salt Lake, and could start Friday, if necessary.
Nate Smith, one of the top prospects in the Angels' farm system, is currently the top man on the rotation for Salt Lake, holding down a 3.79 ERA for the club. However, he's only pitched in a total of 13 games and 71.2 innings at the Triple-A level.
There are a pair of Major League veterans in the Bees' rotation, consisting of Kyle Kendrick and Yunesky Maya. Maya is currently on the disabled list, and holds a 5.80 ERA in 16 MLB games. Kendrick, a nine-year veteran, has a 5.11 ERA over the past three years in the Majors - not ideal.
"I don't know about guys stepping up but we're looking for and hopefully we'll get some guys that are just pitch to their potential," Scioscia stated. "You can't ask anymore out of a player, you can only ask them what they're capable of doing. We feel we're gonna be able to at least weather the storm for now."
There aren't many other options for the Halos, outside of their own organization. The free agent market is weak and they don't have much to offer when it comes to trade bait.
On the market does sit Tim Lincecum, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, who has seen his best days left in the past. The Angels will have representatives at a showcase Friday that Lincecum is hosting, and based on his performance could likely make a bid at him, but would not likely be front runners.
Other options consist of Kyle Lohse, who had a showcase performance down the street from Angel Stadium at UC-Irvine within the last week; former Angels swingman, Jerome Williams, who is recovering from Achilles surgery over the off-season; As well as Aaron Harang and Kevin Correia.
Maybe a final option for the Angels will be piggy-backing their long relievers, in Cory Rasmus and Jose Alvarez. There are still many questions that need answers when it comes to the Angels, without many options for those answers.