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What to expect from Trevor Richards

Another dominant (if unproven) fastball-change-up combination in the bullpen

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MLB: Houston Astros at Tampa Bay Rays Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

Trevor Richards arrives in Milwaukee as the less talked about half of the recent Tampa Bay trade return.

Richards, of course, accompanies Willy Adames, a consistently valuable defender and proven offensive contributor. The Brewers have tried to develop or deal for such a shortstop for nearly a decade. It comes as little surprise that they had to put up no less than two incredibly talented and promising relievers to get a shortstop of Adames’ caliber in the blue and gold.

Considering the talent and bullpen depth the Crew relinquished to get Adames, what are they getting in return with Richards? Importantly, the Brewers are getting Trevor Richards at the beginning of what could be a solid season for the reliever.

Some things to note: Richards has pitched a limited number of innings and failed to earn a spot in Tampa Bay’s opening-day roster. He moved from the Rays to Triple-A twice before being traded to Milwaukee.

Still, despite the small sample size and all the back and forth, Richards owns a 3.86 ERA with a .093 WHIP and 3.22 FIP. Opponents are slashing .196/.241/.373 against him. So, after fourteen major league innings and one appearance with Milwaukee, we can say Trevor Richards is having a very good far.

Zoom out on the numbers, and Richards looks average to below average. Across his career, Richards owns a 4.39 ERA, 1.385 WHIP, and 4.31 FIP. These numbers are marred by an atrocious shortened 2020 that Richards has recovered from at least early on.

The 24-year-old is only just settling into his role as a major league reliever. In his first two seasons in the big leagues, he worked primarily as a starter. He spent that disastrous 2020 shifting between starts and relief. It’s the relief role he’s thrived in this season. According to Richards himself, it’s a role he feels comfortable in. It’s the role he’ll occupy for the Brewers, according to David Stearns.

Richards’ stuff should play well in relief for the Crew. He projects a valuable middle-inning relief role or set up for late-inning stalwarts Devin Williams and Josh Hader. Though Richards could settle in at this spot, he’s also versatile. In his short career, he has done a little bit of everything, including closing games.

Richards has three pitches available to him: a four-seam fastball, a curve, and a change-up. He throws the fastball about half the time, the curve about 20% of the time, and the change-up about 30% of the time.

The change-up is clearly his best pitch. It comes in in the low to mid-80s, and while it doesn’t have the same bilateral movement of a Williams Airbender, it does have a lot of horizontal movement and decent drop. He also has excellent movement on his fastball. The movement on these pitches, and the fact that Richards throws on the edge of the strike zone, means that he gets batters to chase and strikeout. This season, Richards is pushing 11 strikeouts per nine innings and has a strikeout rate of 31.5%. When Richards gets hit, though, he gets hit hard. He’s a flyball pitcher (25.6%) and 44% of his pitches hit in play are hard hit.

Adames gets the hype in the recent Tampa Bay trade, but if Richards continues his 2021 trajectory, he’ll end up being a valuable bullpen piece for Milwaukee in 2021.