The battle of NBA MVP candidates went the way of Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday as he posted 47 points and 18 rebounds to power his team past Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets, 126-119, at home on Saturday afternoon.
The Angels have been red hot as of late, taking advantage of the A's recent struggles to take over first place in the AL west division, and now have the best record in all of baseball. With Wednesday's win over the Red Sox in Boston the Angels have now won 7 of their last 8 games, attempting to create some breathing room between themselves and Oakland. A 3-game series in Oakland this weekend will give them a tremendous opportunity to do just that. Unfortunately for them their recent hot streak has been overshadowed by a scary injury to a key contributor on Wednesday night. The "ace" of the starting rotation Garrett Richards suffered a scary injury to his knee while covering first base on a ground ball at Fenway. He was in extreme pain while lying on the field, and was taken off on a stretcher, straight to an ambulance. It was announced on Thursday that Richards will miss the rest of this season, including the postseason. Richards is in just his 4th big league season, all with the Angels. He did not become a regular starter until the end of last season. He pitched in the bullpen in 2011, 2012, and the first half of 2013. In his time starting last season, he was 1 game under .500 with an ERA over 4. No one expected him to come out this season and have the type of season he was having prior to the injury. He has recorded 13 wins, which is good for second in the big leagues, and his ERA sits under 3, and he was on pace for a possible 200 strikeout season. Many fans and experts were surprised when Richards was not elected to the all-star team in July, rather was a part of the final vote. That surprised feeling turned in to utter shock when he lost in the final vote to Chris Sale. Richards is only 26 years of age, yet he quickly rose to the top of the Angels' rotation for more than one reason. Not only were his numbers impressive enough to label him an "ace", but also the fact that the Angels have not had much contribution from anyone other than Matt Shoemaker. Shoemaker is right behind Richards with 11 wins, and dominated the Red Sox on Thursday. He will be expected to take over at the top of their rotation down the stretch. Jered Weaver has struggled with injuries, and they also lost Tyler Skaggs to an injury a few weeks back in Baltimore. Despite the offense that the Angels possess, the one glaring hole they have, even before the Richards injury, is their depleted starting rotation. Many questioned if Richards could continue his success in to the postseason to carry the Angels on a possible playoff run, with it being his first full season as a starter. That's a question that will not be answered this season, which leaves the best team in baseball with not many options to turn to, and a slim chance for a deep run in October.