It could have been good enough. He only allowed three earned runs. But what hurt his case is that he lasted just five innings in the Padres' 6-2 loss to the D-backs at Chase Field, further taxing a bullpen that had logged the third-most frames in the Majors entering the day.
The Padres' bullpen had pitched 87 2/3 innings before this loss. That's an average of more than four per game.
Add three more to that total.
"It's something we do not want to happen," Richard said of the bullpen's heavy workload. "You don't want to go five innings and be out of there."
But for Richard, it's been a common issue. Since tossing seven innings of one-run baseball on Opening Day, he's gone just five innings in four consecutive starts.
He lacked command on Saturday. He finished with 95 pitches, 58 of which were strikes.
He was hit hard most of the night. He gave up an RBI triple to Deven Marrero, before Zack Godley, the opposing pitcher, hit a game-tying single that erased an early two-run Padres lead. The D-backs took the lead when Richard gave up a solo homer to A.J. Pollock.
"He hasn't had the pinpoint command," Padres manager Andy Green said. "He's always gotten a lot of soft, early contact in at-bats, and that's how he pitches, that's what he pitches for. If he gets back to that soft contact, you'll start seeing him go seven, eight, nine innings."
Richard issued a leadoff walk in the sixth before Adam Cimber replaced him. The runner eventually scored on a Daniel Descalso single off of Cimber. In the seventh, Jordan Lyles gave up the first of two earned runs when he threw a mistake pitch that Paul Goldschmidt hammered off the batter's eye for a triple.
Green called Saturday "a blip" for his bullpen.
"I think we left a pitch out over [the plate] to Descalso that I know we'd like to have back if we could've gotten that up and in on him," he said. "Jordan left a pitch out over [the plate]. His changeups have had real depth, but today it wasn't as alive as it has been."
The Padres had a day off Thursday and closer Brad Hand earned the last four outs of Friday night's game after Tyson Ross took a no-hitter 7 2/3 innings. Saturday's game won't break the bullpen, especially because Kirby Yates is now back from an ankle injury.
"We've been able to spread it out," Green said. "They've definitely logged a lot of innings, but for the most part we've been able to spread it out." That said, an issue could arise if the starting pitchers can't find ways to go deeper into games.
"We're working on it, and we definitely need to get a little more length like Tyson did last night," Richard said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Flashing leather: The game was tied 2-2 in the third inning when Freddy Galvis stepped up to the plate with runners on first and second and two outs. He almost gave the Padres a lead, but D-backs shortstop Nick Ahmed made a slick backhand and threw out Galvis. The play denied the Padres momentum. In the bottom half, Pollock gave the D-backs a lead with a solo home run.
SOUND SMART Franchy Cordero's two-run double had a projected distance of 433 feet, per Statcast™. Unfortunately for him, Chase Field's tall center-field wall prevented it from being a three-run home run.
HE SAID IT "Unfortunately, gave up a few runs when we had the lead. Really want to lock it down when we have a lead like that, keep the momentum going. Was not able to accomplish that. So, really changes the complexion of the game not being able to put up a zero in a situation like that." -- Richard, on not being able to hold the Padres' early 2-0 lead
UP NEXT Joey Lucchesi will face the D-backs in the series finale on Sunday afternoon at 1:10 PT. His 1.66 ERA is tied for third-lowest all-time for a Padres starter through his first four appearances. The Padres will face D-backs starter Patrick Corbin, who took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Giants earlier this week.
Justin Toscano is an associate reporter for MLB.com.