To anyone from Southeastern Massachusetts my title means something to you. If you’re anything like me it signifies the first time in your life you were severely disappointed. I can still remember packing into my parent’s station wagon with another family my parents were friendly with. We were headed to the “World Famous King Richard’s Faire“. Six year old Ralph couldn’t believe I was headed to THE fair of THE King Richard. I mean he was the best king ever, and here I am headed to his fair! Me, lowly 6 year old Ralph with a golden bowl cut! Welp, much like everything else in life since, it was a massive disappointment. What was supposed to be a day of jousts, knights, kings and princesses, quickly turned into reality. That reality was drunk bikers with swords, mutton, and the inescapable smell of feces and urine. The strangest part is it smelt just as much like urine as it did poop. It was as if the two smells were competing for dominance, each pushing itself to it’s limits but neither overtaking the other. Needless to say I never went back. I could have, but I did better things with my time like drinking or masturbating. What does this have to do with Garrett Richards and his most recent start? Well let’s just say I was excited, only to be disappointed. That’s my big market tease, trust me you’re bound to be disappointed…
Scouting Report: It’s been 16 months since Garrett Richards the former Angels ace(?) consistently pitched. An elbow injury that should have required Tommy John ended his 2016, and Richards opted for a new Biometric procedure. He was reported to have been throwing pain free in the spring, but still saw his season all but end following a biceps injury back in April. Today we take a look at Richards return, as he makes his second start of the season and first in 5 months. But really he’s 16 months removed from healthy, and there’s a lot of questions surrounding his choice not to not go under the knife. The pitcher we’ll watch today is not the same guy who left us back in May of 2016. Richards has ditched his changeup, and replaced it with fastball usage particularly on his high spin rate four-seamer. He features two fastballs, first a four-seam fastball with mid-high 90’s velocity, and a low to mid 90’s sinker. He relies heavily on the two pitches throwing his four-seamer 54% of the time while featuring the sinker 13.4% of the time. Meaning 67% of his usage is on fastballs, take that Larry Rothschild! His slider is used 26.8% of the time, and features higher velocity than normal, sitting low 90’s to high 80’s. The slider generates a fair amount of groundballs, and gets a lot of swings and misses with a 17% SwStr. He rounds out his arsenal with a flyball generating curveball, that also gets swinging strikes in the mid-teens. He tends to use the curveball to lefties, and working mostly fastball-slider to righthanded batters. Previously he had relied heavily on his changeup versus lefties.
Quick Note: Richards is only expected to throw about 50 pitches so instead of going through pitch by pitch for each at bat I’ll provide general summaries of each frame.
The first could not have gone better, as Richards only needed five pitches to get out of the inning. Velocity was in the high 90s, touching 97 on a couple of pitches. He also generated three groundball outs. Great inning but lets see what Richards can do with his breaking stuff.
Richards began to mix in the slider in the first at bat of the second frame versus noted fastball slugger Khris Davis, a player known for his struggles against breaking balls. Below you can see Richards freezing Khrush on a 90 MPH slider in the second inning that rung up Davis.
The pitch has nice 12 to 6 movement, and he does a good job to not overthrow it despite how hard it is. You can see Richards ringing up Matt Olson below on the pitch for his second consecutive strikeout to start the second.
He featured a few against Jed Lowrie with absolutely devastating movement. A second 1-2-3 inning to start the game, as Richards stuff looks as crisp as ever.
Opened the inning by continuing where he left off, getting weak ground ball contact from catcher Bruce Maxwell. He followed that up with a walk to Matt Chapman on 7 pitches, 5 of which were fastballs. Though it should be noted he got squeezed on a 2-2 slider that 100% was a strike, before walking Chapman on the next pitch. A hard single up the middle on the second pitch of the at bat to Boog Powell put runners on the corners with one out. A groundball to third led to Matt Chapman caught in a pickle as the Angels get the lead runner with two outs. The inning ended on another weak groundball this time off the bat of Matt Joyce.
After going down 2-0 to Matt Olson, Richards battles back to get even the count with consecutive 97 MPH fastballs before pulling the string on the lefty with a nasty curveball.
3.1 IP, 4 Hits, 1 Walk, 1 Run, 3 Ks, 50 Pitches, 32 Strikes, 7 Swinging Strikes, 50 Game Score
Summary: This is a tough one to come to any conclusions on. Going back to my analogy I had a great deal of excitement about Richards, particularly after he opened the game with three very strong innings. However the 4th showed why Richards might not be worth trusting down the stretch. It’s unlikely he’s going to go deep enough into games to give you wins, his K totals won’t pile up enough to matter. Based on the A’s ability to hit both his slider and fastball the second time through the order doesn’t bode well either. I’d have to see Richards get to at least 90 pitches before feeling comfortable enough to roll him out there for the rest of the season.
Updated Top 100 SP
(rankings for ROS based on 12-team Roto)
- Only one note this week, and it’s really just words of encouragement. At this point in the season play the matchups, ignore the names, plan your starters and adds. Do what you can to maximize innings, but most of all target the areas where you need help. Sometimes it’s ratios, and really at that point you just need to fight the urge to start anyone that isn’t 100% safe.