Blanton was 0-3 with an 8.84 earned-run average in his last four starts. Manager Mike Scioscia praised Blanton’s effort Tuesday but acknowledged the reality of the situation.
“He obviously doesn’t have everything together like he needs to,” Scioscia said. “He’s working hard with [pitching coach] Mike [Butcher] to find the consistency that he needs to repeat pitches, and it’s been a struggle for Joe.”
Richards has started four games this season, all in April, and relieved another 30. As a starter the 25-year-old from Riverside is 1-2 with a 5.54 earned-run average despite limiting opponents to a .229 batting average, .282 on-base percentage and .365 slugging percentage.
As a reliever, he’s been hit harder (.281/.332/.380) but has a lower ERA (4.10) in a much larger sample size.
Richards started nine games for the Angels last year (3-2, 4.42 ERA) before being demoted to the bullpen in August.
It remains to be seen how or if Blanton would fit into the team’s pitching staff with Richards in the rotation.
The Angels enter the four-game weekend series in a critical position. They began Wednesday 11 games behind the A’s for first place in the American League West, before beating the Minnesota Twins 1-0 to salvage the final game of their three-game series.
The Angels have 63 regular-season games remaining and 10 are against the A’s.