Red Sox starter Garrett Richards hasn’t been sharp this spring
Spring training provides players with an opportunity to gradually ramp up for the season. Not everyone will come into camp firing on all cylinders, so now is the time to work out the kinks. It’s fortunate that Garrett Richards still has time to prepare because based on the early returns this spring, he has a long way to go before the Boston Red Sox can count on him in the rotation.
Richards was scheduled to toss three innings against the Atlanta Braves on Sunday but made it through only two. He coughed up four earned runs on three hits while walking four batters. Most of the damage was done in the first inning when Richards allowed a bases-clearing double with two outs after he had loaded the bases with an infield single squeezed between a pair of walks.
Through two starts this spring, Richards owns a brutal 13.50 ERA and a 3.00 WHIP. The right-hander has walked twice as many batters (six) as the number of strikeouts he’s recorded (three).
Despite the discouraging results, Richards isn’t concerned. According to MassLive’s Chris Cotillo, Richards admitted that he hasn’t felt comfortable on the mound but he provided an explanation for is slow start.
"“I throw across my body and I’ve kind of got a lot going on when I throw a baseball,” he said. “I have two or three things I have in my brain that are checkpoints throughout my delivery that I try to keep as consistent as possible. Right now, I’m doing every once in a while but I’m not doing it as much as I’d like. It’s just about the reps. It’s about getting the brain connected to the body.”"
Consistently repeating the delivery is essential for any pitcher. It stands to reason that pitchers with more complex deliveries will need more time to get everything in sync. The reason why Richards is struggling is tied to his mechanics, which means it’s correctable.
Red Sox pitching coach Dave Bush has noticed some issues from watching Richards in his two outings. He’s working with the right-hander to make the proper adjustments and he’ll have a few more starts this spring to straighten himself out.
The most important takeaway is that Richards is healthy. The 32-year-old hasn’t made more than 16 starts in a season since 2015. It wouldn’t be accurate to label Richards as injury prone considering most of the time he’s missed is tied to one injury which treatment failed to fix, ultimately leading to Tommy John surgery.
The health woes appear to be behind him after he made it through last year’s shortened season unscathed. He entered camp with a clean bill of health, his velocity is about where they expect it to be and he’s shown flashes of an outstanding breaking ball.
It’s hardly unusual for a pitcher to battle consistency issues during spring training. That’s what the exhibition schedule is for, to allow them the time to make adjustments as they build up their arm strength. We can start to worry if Richards is still getting knocked around in May but there’s no reason to hit the panic button in early March.