Blue Jays: We may owe Trevor Richards an apology

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees
Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

Toronto Blue Jays reliever Trevor Richards has gotten a lot of flack from the fanbase over the past year and for good reason. After a solid half-season in Toronto after being acquired from the Brewers in 2021, Richards posted a 5.34 ERA in 64 innings during the 2022 season as he struggled with his command, among other things. He struggled again to start 2023, allowing three runs without getting an out in just his second appearance before another tough outing a few days later against the Angels. It's been a small sample size since then, but Richards has been having a really underrated season so far, and there's reason to believe he could become a reliable piece of what has often been an unreliable bullpen.

In his last 4.2 innings pitched, he's allowed just two hits, no walks, and no runs, while striking out seven, lowering his ERA on the year to 3.24 in 8.2 innings. This is obviously great, but again, it's a very small sample size. What makes his recent success so encouraging is his advanced metrics. His statcast numbers are outstanding to this point in the season and have been a massive improvement from 2022 as the table below shows. 

Numbers represent percentile ranking out of 100



Average exit velocity



Hard Hit%



xERA / xwOBA


















Chase Rate



While it's far from perfect, these types of stats can be a great predictor of future success, unlike raw stats like ERA since they tend to be less skewed by smaller sample sizes. His numbers here are highlighted by elite strikeout and whiff rates as well as an xBA in the 95th percentile. This can be attributed to a few things, the most obvious of which is that he's become entirely a two-pitch pitcher. Richards has completely dropped his curveball and is now only using his fastball and changeup which appears to have been a great idea. While his fastball is pretty standard, sitting around 93mph, his changeup has been devastating this season, with a whiff rate of 53.8%, meaning over half of the time a batter swings at his changeup, they miss, well above the league average. This makes hitters wary of it in two-strike counts, which allows him to catch them off guard with his four-seamer. Another big development in his game is his hard hit% that's jumped up 45 percentiles from 2022, and 77 percentiles from 2021. Richards has always been the type of pitcher that can be prone to allowing hard contact, so if his hard hit% can remain even around league average this season, he could be a real force.

Once again, we're still very early in the season, so any analysis should be taken with a grain of salt, but as of late, Trevor Richards has looked like a completely different pitcher. Usually consistent arms like Adam Cimber, Yimi García, and Anthony Bass have struggled to start the year, but the revitalization of a reliever that most people seemed to have written off has been a very welcome surprise over the past few weeks.