The Red Sox added another arm to their rotation on Saturday. They came to terms with veteran pitcher Garrett Richards on a one-year deal with an option for a second year.
Richards, 32, comes to Boston with 10 years of major league experience under his belt. The right-hander started his career with the Los Angeles Angels, playing there from 2011-18. After eight seasons in Los Angeles, Richards stayed in California, signing a two-year deal with the Padres prior to the 2019 season.
Here are four things to know about the Red Sox newest addition.
Richards fares much better against right-handed hitters than left-handed hitters.
The thinking in baseball usually goes that right-handed pitchers have the upper-hand against hitters who hit on the same side of the plate.
That’s the case for Richards.
This past season, right-handed hitters had a .589 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) against Richards, well below the .740 OPS around the majors in 2020. Righties also had a .189 batting average against Richards in 2020.
Left-handed hitters were much better though as they had a .853 OPS and had a .296 batting average against Richards in 2020.
Richards’ top two pitches are his fastball and slider.
Richards is a hard thrower. His four-seam fastball had an average speed of 95.1 miles per hour in 2020 and tops out at 99 miles per hour.
Richards relied on his four-seam fastball more than ever in 2020, throwing it in 46.3 percent of his pitches. Batters had decent success against Richards’ fastball last season. They had a .276 batting average and a 15 percent whiff rate against Richards’ fastball in 2020.
Richards saw more success when he used his slider, which he threw in 37.8 percent of his pitches in 2020. Hitters had a .147 batting average against Richards’ slider, while swinging and missing on 39.5 percent of them.
In addition to the fastball and slider, Richards also threw sinkers and curveballs in 2020.
Richards has an extensive injury history.
Injuries have not been kind to Richards over his 10-year career.
The first major injury Richards suffered came in 2014 when he was with the Angels. While pitching against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, Richards had to be carted off the field after running over to first base to complete a double play. The injury ended up being a torn patellar tendon, forcing him to miss the rest of the 2014 season.
Richards made his return nearly eight months later, re-joining the Angels a few weeks into the 2015 season. Once he was activated from the disabled list in April of that year, Richards had a clean bill of health for the rest of the season. He had a 15-12 record with a 3.65 ERA for that season.
After the clean 2015 season, Richards’ final three seasons with the Angels were defined by injuries. He only made six starts in both the 2016 and 2017 seasons. In 2016, he was diagnosed with a torn ligament in his right arm but opted not to get Tommy John surgery.
In July 2018, Richards left a game against the Mariners early due to right arm irritation. It was found he had a damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow the next day. Richards had Tommy John surgery that time, which ended his 2018 season and ultimately his time with the Angels.
Richards has some control issues with his pitches.
While using a fastball and slider to overpower hitters has brought success for Richards over his career, those pitches having certainly had some downside too.
The veteran pitcher has led the Americal League in wild pitches three times over his career. In 2014, a season in which Richards missed a month-plus of action, Richards threw 22 wild pitches, which was actually the most in all of baseball.
Richards kept his title in the American League and in all of baseball again in 2015. He threw 17 wild pitches that season. He once again led the league in wild pitches in 2018. Richards had 15 wild pitches that season, in which he missed the final 2.5 months due to Tommy John surgery.
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