Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet was all over the Blue Jays picking up another pitcher, this time it was lefty Clayton Richard who had been designated for assignment by the San Diego Padres. Richard is owed $3-million for the 2019 season but it has been reported that the Padres will pay half of that sum. The Blue Jays sent minor-league outfielder, and Toronto native, Connor Panas to the Padres.
Richard, 35, is a 10-year veteran who, like Matt Shoemaker, whom the Blue Jays signed the other day, is coming off injury woes in the 2018 season. Richard had knee surgery in late August after a poor season relative to his career. He threw 158 2/3 innings with a 5.33 ERA and 1.38 WHIP, striking out 108 and walking 60.
Over the course of his career, Richard has a 4.46 ERA and 1.42 WHP, striking out 802 and walking 420 in 1239 1/3 innings with a 265-200 record. Richard has struggled with durability over his career, throwing over 150 innings in a season just five times in the major leagues, although he’s met that mark in each of the last two seasons.
In Panas, the Blue Jays are losing an outfielder who has produced some solid power numbers but he struggled to produce in Double-A last year, hitting .232/.296/.359 with 16 doubles, two triples and nine home runs over 105 games.
Blue Jays fans shouldn’t expect too much out of Richard. While his fastball velocity has remained stable through his career (averaging 90.1 mph in 2018 and peaking at 91.7 mph in 2009), most of career has been spent in San Diego, where pitchers are favoured. I wouldn’t expect much out of him in a starting role in Toronto and the AL East, where mistakes get crushed into next week. That said, Richard is known for his ground ball percentage, which was a very solid 56.8% in 2019. I can see Richard having a bit more success moving the bullpen as a lefty specialist if he has trouble with the tough lineups in the AL East as a starter.
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