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The Season That Was: Trevor Richards

A look at Trevor Richards’s 2023 season


Before we start this, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you on the south side of the 49th parallel, I hope you find a lot to be thankful for. I’m thankful for family and friends, I’m luckier than I deserve in those areas. Lately, I’ve been thankful that I’ve gotten back to playing some sports in the last couple of years. I didn’t realize how much I missed being competitive. I had always been into sports, but when kids came along, you spend more time watching them play (which is great fun to be a part of too). Now I’m back playing sports and feeling healthier and fitter.

Coming into the 2023 season, Trevor Richard had played a season and a half for the Jays after coming over in trade from the Brewers with Bowden Francis for Rowdy Tellez. I see that Tellez was non-tendered by the Brewers and is a free agent now. In his time with Milwaukee, he played 314 games and hit 55 home runs, with a .226/.305/.438 batting line, adding up to a 0.5 bWAR.

In Richard’s season and a half, he pitched in 94 games, making 4 ‘starts’ as opener. He worked as a back-end setup man/long reliever/mopup guy. Joining the Jays, he figured out how to strike guys out. In 2022, he had a 29.2% strikeout rate.

As a back-end guy in the bullpen, he was pretty good.

Standard Pitching
30 2 1 4.95 56 3 6 0 72.2 63 41 40 13 35 3 105 2 0 5 315 86 4.22 7.8 1.6 4.3 13.0
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 11/23/2023.

Baseball Reference has him at a -0.2 WAR (up from -0.8 last year). FanGraphs at +0.4 (+0.2 last year), making him worth $3.3 million to the Blue Jays.

He had a 4.22 FIP and a 3.80 xFIP.

Trevor’s BABIP was .313, much the same as last year’s .312 last year. 72.1% of his baserunners were stranded, up from 64.7% last year.

His line drive rate was much the same (19.2% from 19.1), his ground ball rate was close to last year’s (32.0% from 34.0), and his fly ball rate was up a bit (48.8% from 46.9). 15.5% of fly balls hit off him left the park (11.8% last year).

His strikeout rate was up (33.3% from 29.2%), but his walk rate was down a bit (11.1% from 12.5).

Richard’s soft contact was way up (19.7% from 11.7), and hard contact was also up (32.4% from 30.7).

Right-handed hitters hit him slightly better (.244/.316/.438) than left-handers (.207/.319/.405).

Richards was better at home (4.02 ERA, batters hit .220/.302/.420) than on the road (6.12, batters hit .238/.336/.429). I can’t see why the ERA would be so much higher on the road, given that batters hit him much the same. Sample size I’m sure.

And his first half (3.02, .196/.279/.362) was much better than his second half (8.04, .274/.371/.513).

Richards by month:

  • April: 10 games, 0-0, 3.18. Batters hit .233/.327/.395, 2 home runs, 4 walks and 18 strikeouts in 11.1 innings.
  • May: 8 games, 0-0, 3.55. Batters hit .152/.278/.239, 1 home run, 8 walks and 19 strikeouts in 12.2 innings.
  • June: 8 games, 0-1, 3.07. Batters hit .177/.250/.451, 4 home runs, 5 walks and 21 strikeouts in 14.2 innings.
  • July: 12 games, 1-0, 2.45. Batters hit .250/.318/.429, 2 home runs, 6 walks and 23 strikeouts in 14.2 innings.
  • August: 6 games, 0-0, 6.43. Batters hit .259/.276/.370, 1 home run, 1 walk and 8 strikeouts in 7 innings.
  • September: 12 games, 1-0, 12.41. Batters hit .302/.422/.604, 3 home runs, 11 walks and 16 strikeouts in 12.1 innings.

The season didn’t end well for him. Before August, he was terrific.

The Jays were 28-28 in games that he appeared in.

With RISP batters hit .244/.419/.400 against Trevor.

Days rest:

  • 0 days: 9 times, .395/.489/.632.
  • 1 day: 12 times, .225/.345/.490.
  • 2 days: 14 times, .236/.300/.403.
  • 3 days: 8 times, .194/.306/.387.
  • 4 days: 7 times, .105/.128/.263.
  • 5 days: 1 time, .200/.429/.200.
  • 6+ days: 2 times, .364/.462/.455.

By leverage:

  • High: .209/.370/.535.
  • Medium: .250/.315/.400.
  • Low: .222/.302/.405.

By catcher:

  • Kirk: 36 innings: .209/.321/.403.
  • Jansen: 32 innings: .238/.307/.418.
  • Heineman: 4.2 innings: .300/.364/.600.

It might be a sample-size thing, but I would lean away from using him on back-to-back days. But then, that is likely true for most relievers.

Richards picked up 11 hold.

Trevor was on the IL in early August with neck ‘inflammation’. He wasn’t the same when he came back. Up until that point, he was quite good in his role.

Before the season, I said:

Looking at our pen, if up to me, I don’t think he would make the team. What he has going for him is a guaranteed contract. Still, it is only $1.5 million (I would never say “only $1.5 million” about anything other than baseball, $1.5 million is a lot of money elsewhere). I think we have a dozen guys I would rather have in our pen than Richards. But then some of those guys have options and could be kept in Buffalo. Depth is important, but I see a lot of guys I’d rather see coming out of the pen.

I was wrong. A guy who strikeouts out a third of batters is a useful pitcher. He’s arbitration-eligible this winter. He’s likely to be getting about $2.5 million next year. He’s likely to be worth it, but we do have a lot of good arms, so he’ll have to prove himself in spring training again.

Before the season, we asked:

  • If the over/under on Richard’s innings pitched for the Jays is 54, I’d take the: 22% of us were right. Richards cleared that by a fair bit.
  • If the over/under for Richard’s ERA is 3.90 I’d take the: 65% were right taking the over. He was under pre-injury, but the last month wasn’t great.
  • By September, Richards will be a: 39% were right, says ‘low leverage arm in the pen’. 55% figured he wouldn’t be with the Jays anymore. Though he did get 11 holds, and he was used in as many games we won as games we lost, so ‘low leverage’ might not be fair. Maybe medium leverage would be a better description.


For his 2023 season I’d grade Trevor Richards an

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