Richards’ changeup has been borderline elite since his promotion to the big leagues in 2018. He’s averaged an O-Swing of 51% and has held batters to just a .189 BAA and a .270 wOBA. Pitch is downright nasty.
Much like his slider, Richards struggled mightily with his other breaker, the curve. A .428 wOBA paired with an O-Swing below 20% and a SwStr% below 6% suggest disaster.
After it was battered in 2018, Richards flashed a respectable heater in 2019, holding hitters to a pedestrian .338 wOBA while maintaining a 25% K rate. Bringing down his 12% BB rate would do wonders for an already-decent pitch.
Richards incorporated a slider into his arsenal in 2019, and the results were disastrous. A .401 wOBA and a walk rate almost double its K rate caused a ballooning of Richards’ ERA, despite above-average fastball/changeup offerings.
Richards’ bread and butter is his fastball. Unfortunately for him, that means hitters get to see his fastball a lot. Batters liked what they saw last year, crushing this pitch to the tune of a .397 wOBA. Richards’ desperately needs to improve his slider so he doesn’t have to rely on his fastball-change combo 87% of the time.
Richards’ change is his main offspeed offering, and boy, is it a beauty. This is by far his best pitch, thanks to a 24.2% SwStr rate and a .512 OPS. Although this is an outstanding base for a secondary, he needs to generate more ground balls (41.9%) to help this pitch reach its full potential.
Richards’ slider was not a very good pitch for him. It’s lack of outstanding movement allowed batters to be selective in when they offered at the pitch (40.5% swing rate), and hammer it when they did (82.9% contact rate). The -3.4 pVal pitch will need improvement in velocity or depth to become an impact offering for Richards.