Richards has all but phased the changeup out of his arsenal after occasional use early in his career. When utilized, it’s a hard change with sink that nonetheless drops 6 mph off his fastball/sinker combo.
A 12-to-6 curve with slight tilt gives Richards just enough variance from his heavy-use slider to alter the batter’s eye. Historically a weapon against lefties, Richards should get enough reps to use it in more than just a small sample in 2020.
Richards returned from injury to face just 41 batters in 2019 — but his fastball looked none the worse. Coming in at 94.9 mph, Richards has yet to get his four-seamer back to its pre-injury heights.
While Richards was mostly recovering from Tommy John in 2019, we got to see his slider in a small sample and remember why we love it. A 19.6% swinging-strike rate is in-line with past years and the same can be said for his ability to get swings outside the zone. It could become his most used pitch like we were seeing in 2018 and that could be a boon for his strikeout numbers.
This 89 mph slider was another excellent strikeout pitch for Richards in 2018. He generated a 46% K rate with it and held batters to average levels of contact overall. He did allow a 25% HR/FB rate and a .171 ISO on this pitch; however, he was able to limit hard contact overall due to the depth he got on the slider.
This four-seamer was Richards’ most thrown pitch in 2018 but least effective. He walked more batters than he struck out with the 96 mph heater and only generated a 5% swinging-strike rate. He also allowed above-average rates of contact and hard contact, allowing a .202 ISO and a 22% HR/FB rate.
Richards’ 96 mph sinker graded out as a below-average pitch in 2018. While Richards was able to generate ground balls at a 58% clip and limited fly balls to 13%, he was unable to avoid home runs, allowing a 33% HR/FB rate. He also was unable to generate swings and misses with the sinker, amassing a low 7% swinging-strike rate and 7% K rate on the season.
Richards threw his 81 mph curveball the least in 2018, but it was an outstanding pitch. He allowed only two hits on it all season for an .065 batting average against. He also amassed a 42% K rate with the curveball thanks to a ton of 12-6 movement. This should be utilized more often once Richards returns from injury.