Red Sox righty Garrett Richards is pitching for his future tonight

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 28: Starting pitcher Garrett Richards #43 of the Boston Red Sox throws against the Kansas City Royals during the second inning at Fenway Park on June 28, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 28: Starting pitcher Garrett Richards #43 of the Boston Red Sox throws against the Kansas City Royals during the second inning at Fenway Park on June 28, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Garrett Richards must come through for the Red Sox

The Red Sox are in a midst of a losing skid that has seen them go from the top of the American League East mountain to looking up at the peak. While there’s still breathing room between Boston and the teams below them, losing three in a row to the Tampa Bay Rays is not good at any point in the season, let alone as the postseason is on the horizon. Tonight they’ll trot Garrett Richards out to the bump and the righty needs to have a stellar performance, his future may depend on it.

Now, I’m sure many of you are already claiming that I’m being dramatic in regards to what the future may hold for Garrett and that this one start could spell doom for the righty, but hear me out. He’s been one of, if not the most, frustrating pitchers in the Red Sox’s starting rotation this season, and the clock is ticking. Tanner Houck has been strong in his starts with the big club this season and isn’t going away any time soon. Then there’s the Boogeyman, and that should scare Richards more than anything.

Chris Sale is coming back and he’s coming back sooner rather than later. With another rehab start in Worcester set for Saturday, it’s only a matter of when Chaim Bloom and the gang recall him back to the big club and Boston needs to make room for him. As it stands right now the two odd men out are Richards and Martín Pérez, and it could come down to whoever has the best start coming up. That means the righty can’t risk another bad outing that could see him sent to the bullpen or even worse.

Many clamored for Richards to be sent to the Shadow Realm via the DFA earlier in the season and I’ll admit I was in the group at times. But the weird thing is he’s also had some pretty damn good outings that have surprised me. Unfortunately since the crackdown on “the sticky stuff,” he’s been all over the place and hasn’t really been able to give Boston much of anything worth note. His deal is good through this season with a $10M team option for 2022, but that seems like a pipe dream for the right-hander.

So what exactly has he done as of late you ask, well, I’ll tell ya! Per Fangraphs, in his four starts in July he posted a 2-1 record with a 5.95 ERA through 19.2 innings. Not the greatest sample size of work but there are some positives in that timespan as well. He averaged a 2.75 BB/9 which is surprisingly good for a guy who has a lot of trouble finding the strike zone. Richards also had a 5.95 K/9, which again, is not awful for a dude who throws a lot of balls. He faced 88 batters in that window and struck out 13 and walked 6, but gave up 24 hits, that hurts.

As I said before, the man is all over the place with his outings. He’s not giving up free passes like you’d think based on the box score but he’s also not doing much in the way of keeping the opposition from scoring. He did carry a .302 BABIP in July but despite all of the hits he’s giving up he ended the month with a 75% LOB%. Again, all over the damn place. He’s giving up runs and hits but not as bad as it seems but also in the same breath not in a good way either, my dude is the definition of a confusing process.

More from Red Sox News

This brings me to tonight’s start in Detroit. An outing against an absolutely miserable Tigers team should allow him a chance to give the Red Sox a strong start while giving the bullpen an easy night of work. Then again, it’s Garrett Richards and things could implode in the first inning and our boys have to win in another comeback. I don’t think it’s dramatic to think that his future could be on the line with tonight’s start. There are other pitchers on this staff that have proven to be more reliable than him and with the season winding down, Boston can’t afford to trot out a wild card every fifth day.

The thing is, even with Sale and Houck knocking on the starting rotation door, a great start from Richards could stave off the guillotine for another cycle. Like I mentioned above, Pérez is also on the chopping block and despite how much I love Martín and celebrate Pérez Day every week, his price tag makes it a much easier cut when comparing the two. Neither has been rock solid in 2021, each has had successes and failures, but one carries a salary that’s twice as high and could steer Bloom’s decision-making.

dark. Next. Detroit offers J.D. a slump-busting opportunity

If I had to take a stab at things looking at October, Richards will be in the bullpen. There’s no way that with how well Sale is pitching in his rehab starts that you don’t put him back in the rotation. The same thing goes for Houck, he’s got too much in the positive column to have him be a reliever. Keep Garrett to short outings where he can hopefully help and not hurt with his limited mound time. After this year, I’m not sure. That option is pretty pricey for a guy who doesn’t offer consistency. If he wants to stay, he needs to pitch like his future depends on it, because it very well may.