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Blue Jays 40-man Roster Review: Trevor Richards was an important reliever for the Jays prior to his August injury

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Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Brennan Delaney
2 months ago
Trevor Richards had a weird season.
This is the 40-man Roster Review, in which we’re going to take a look back at each player on the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster, and how they performed in 2023, as well as their outlook for 2024.
On the surface level, it wasn’t a great one for the 30-year-old changeup artist, as he finished with a 4.95 ERA and a 4.22 FIP in 72.2 innings pitched. His 33.3 K% was the highest on the team, beating out Kevin Gausman’s 31.1 K%, but Richards also struggled with command and control as he had an 11.1 BB%.
Richards was actually nails in low-leverage opportunities to start the season, as he had a 2.98 ERA and a 3.73 FIP, along with a 36.9 K% and a 10.2 BB% in his first 54.1 innings pitched. However, the Jays added Richards to the 15-day Injured List on August 3, which completely derailed his season.
Post-injury, Richards had an awful 10.80 ERA and a 5.66 FIP in 18.1 innings pitched, along with a K% that dropped to 24.4% and a BB% that rose to 13.3%. Whether he wasn’t fully healthy, or he got out of rhythm is unknown.
What is known is the fact that Richards’ underlying numbers were fantastic. He was in the 100th percentile with a 37.5% chase rate. His 36.8 whiff% was only at a slightly worse percentile, the 97th percentile. Richards’ 33.3 K% was also in the 97th percentile. Of course, he struggled with command and control, and his 11.1 BB% was in the 15th percentile. He also had a 10.4% barrel %, which was in the 13th percentile.
The reason why Richards generated so many swings and misses is due to an 80-grade changeup with “bonkers” movement. The pitch itself had a 47.8 whiff %, and batters hit just .165 against it.
There’s also potential for his fastball to get better. It averaged 92.8 mph in 2023, which on the surface level is quite meh. However, it had the second most vertical rise in the league vs average at 3.5, just behind Los Angeles’ Alex Vesia.
Fangraphs’ Steamer projects that Richards will have a much better season, as it has him posting a 3.86 ERA and a 4.15 FIP in 54 innings pitched. It does see a significant drop in K%, down to 27.7%, while it predicts he’ll have a rather high 10 BB%.
The 2024 season could potentially be Richards’ last as a Blue Jays, as it’s his final season of arbitration. MLB Trade Rumors has him making $2.4 million in arbitration, and he has no option years remaining.
When it comes down to it, Richards needs to locate his fastball to set up the changeup, and when he does that, he’s entirely capable of sitting around a 3 ERA. The walks are always going to be a bit of an issue as the changeup dances around so much, but when you factor in he’s led the team in strikeouts the past two seasons, you can live with it.
Hopefully, he can consistently be one of the Blue Jays best relievers in 2024.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.

ARTICLE PRESENTED BY BETANO

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