San Diego Padres pitcher Clayton Richard did not fair well against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday night. Richard allowed seven runs in 3 1/3 innings in an 8-1 loss. Only five of those runs were earned, but his earned run average over six starts rose to 8.54.
As the season progresses, the left hander’s playing ability has seemed to only waiver instead of improve. Since his successful battle against the Colorado Rockies on April 14, Richard has allowed 18 runs, 16 of which have been earned, on 20 hits, along with eight walks, in a total of 11 innings over three starts. This gives him an ERA of 13.09.
In Saturday’s game, the second inning proved to be particularly brutal. In just that isolated inning, the Diamondbacks were able to score six runs against Richard off 22 pitches. Three of the 10 hitters he faced in that inning got their run off the first pitch, and another four hitters, off the second pitch.
According to manager Bud Black, Richard’s problem lies in his inconsistency on the mound. Richard has a tendency to get inconsistent with his aim and his pitching style, especially when stressed. That can get him stuck in a hole when he needs to be throwing strikes.
Black also notes that Richard’s previous two starts could have been affected by his bout of flu, which may have affected his energy levels and playing ability. Whatever the case, it is clear that Richard is in a rut that needs to be fixed. He hasn’t always been this way.
Last season, Richard was named Padres Pitcher of the Year. He led the Padres with 33 starts, going 14-14 with a 3.99 ERA. In 2012 he led the National League with 31 home runs. What happened to that Clayton Richard?