- Apr 23, 2010
His injury history isn't as bad as the innings pitched track record makes it appear. He tore his UCL in 2016 and tried some newer/experimental treatments to avoid Tommy John. They didn't work out, leading to him having Tommy John in 2018 and missing most of 2018 and 2019. So it all stems from that one 2016 injury, and he got the surgery and came back healthy last year. Clearly, he is still unlikely to be a 30 starts, 180 innings guy, but it's also not a string of injuries - just one mismanaged injury.Richards is the kind of move that I and a lot of others have been thinking is best: he's an upside play. I just didn't really like Richards himself in that role. Others have made cases here that have me warming up to this as a reasonable gamble. I guess I'll make the case against him as the particular choice for that role, to explain my initial reaction (to be clear, I always preferred this over a much bigger Odorizzi deal):
- Richardson is 32, so he's not young, and the odds of a comeback get lower with age.
- It's been 5 years since he threw more than 76 innings, so this is not a single injury or a lost year or two.
- In all of his really good ERA seasons, he's substantially overperformed his SIERRA (and usually also FIP/xFIP). This worries me especially for 2016 and 2017 where his ERAs were in the 2s, but SIERRAs were ~1.5 runs higher, and he threw so few innings I don't expect the ERA to be predictive over SIERRA.
But his velocity is good, and apparently his spin rates were good last year, and he is one more year removed from the surgery compared even to 2020. The fact that it's only a one year commitment is also very nice for the team. On a more personal level, it will also be fun to root for him to pull it together and pitch well. I'll count myself as wary, by hopeful.
On the other point, his Career ERA is 3.62 and his career FIP is 3.68 (xfip 3.75). In his two best years, 2014 and 2015, they were only slightly above his ERA. There is clearly some upside here if he is really healthy after Tommy John, so the flexibility of the option is really nice. Anyone available in this price range on short years is going to come with some degree of risk, but it seems like a reasonable upside play.