In the past weekend series against the Boston Red Sox with runs coming at a tight premium, the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen certainly did their part in helping the team sweep their AL East rivals in the three-game set. Together, Jordan Hicks, Jordan Romano, Tim Mayza, Erik Swanson, Chad Green, Yimi García, and Génesis Cabrera combined to hold the Red Sox to only two earned runs on four hits, with four walks and 16 strikeouts over 12.1 impressive innings.
However, their superb work recently has helped mask one of their currently struggling members of the relief corps in Trevor Richards. Richards had been a key part of the Jays’ bullpen success so far this season. In particular, he was almost unhittable during the middle part of the 2023 season, blowing away hitters with nasty strikeouts like no tomorrow.
Unfortunately, Richards ran into an injury issue with neck inflammation back in early August that interrupted his stellar season and he hasn’t been the same since coming back. In 11 outings after being activated from the IL in mid-August, Richards has compiled an ugly 13.91 ERA, 2.36 WHIP, .347 opponents batting average, giving up 17 earned runs, with nine walks and 13 strikeouts in just 11 innings pitched. Not only that, but he has also yielded runs in each of his past five appearances during the Jays’ most important stretch of the season. Miraculously, he still managed to pull off two holds and not lose any games for the Jays.
But with that kind of underwhelming performance recently, it was no wonder he wasn’t utilized at all during the Jays’ critical bounce back series against the Red Sox. They probably didn’t want to take the chance that any missteps by Richards could have cost the Jays a game or two in the standings, and they probably wouldn’t be back in a playoff spot if that turned out to be the case. Perhaps his neck injury is still lingering a bit and is affecting his effectiveness, or maybe it is due to fatigue from the amount of work he has done so far for the team this year.
Nevertheless, he has shown the ability to bounce back big time this season. As one would recall, he did start off 2023 with a mediocre stretch, but then righted the ship as the season wore on. However, there currently isn’t much time left for Richards, as the Jays desperately need him to turn things around right away to help the team make the postseason. As a result, Richards will need to regroup and get his game and confidence back together soon before he sees his playing time greatly reduced, and potentially may even be left off the postseason roster if the Jays do end up making it.