'A little transition period' for Richards
In his recent slump, which hit a low point in Wednesday night’s 8-2 loss to the Rays, Garrett Richards is struggling to survive as his spin rate dips.
Richards is trying to get a good grip on the baseball, but admits he is struggling to do so following MLB’s recent crackdown which prevents pitchers from using any foreign substance but rosin.
The bottom line is that Richards is going to need to learn how to adapt better than on Wednesday, when he didn’t make it out of the second inning.
Over 1 2/3 innings, he gave up three hits and five runs (four earned) while walking four and striking out none.
“Going through a little transition period right now,” said Richards. “Changing some grips on some of my pitches, learning new pitches, just trying to figure this whole thing out. Like I said, a little transition period, still determined to get it figured out.”
Richards displayed his talent during an eight-start run from April 27 through June 6, in which he went 4-2 with a 2.98 ERA.
But in his last three starts, it has been an entirely different story, with Richards totaling just 11 innings while giving up 21 hits and 12 earned runs.
“Regarding Garrett, he’s got to make some adjustments,” said Red Sox pitching coach Dave Bush. “I know these last couple of starts have not been very good. He knows this is difficult but he’s talented -- he’s very talented. He has the ability to make some adjustments. It’s going to take some work, but I think he can do it. He’s going to commit to it. He’s still a really talented pitcher and he’s going to be able to get people out in the big leagues.”
Red Sox manager Alex Cora has no plans to take Richards out of the rotation. His next start is scheduled for Monday at Fenway against the Royals.
“Unless something happens physically, and he comes here tomorrow and says something is wrong, he'll be ready for the next one,” said Cora.
It was hard not to notice that the spin rate on Richards’ curveball was down roughly 500 rpm from his first 12 starts of the season.
Richards will keep going to the drawing board in an effort to get back on track.
“Yeah, you know, I’m an athlete. I’d like to think I’m going to be able to get over this and figure out a way to get it done,” said Richards.
While the breaking stuff is important, Cora also thinks Richards needs to get back to commanding his fastball the way he was earlier in the season.
“That's something we have to work on, to just find that fastball again,” said Cora. “He did a good job after that Mets start to use it up in the zone and getting swings and misses there. It seems like lately, he's not getting swings and misses. We can talk about the breaking ball and slider, but in this league, if your fastball is not playing, you're going to have trouble.”
The mission for Richards in these next few days prior to his next start will be to figure out a way to get himself out of trouble and back in command.
Part of the solution could come with an improved mindset.
“He’s got to commit to making some changes, that’s the best way I can put it,” said Bush. “It is difficult. He’s not the only one going through this, but any time there’s a dip in performance, doubt can creep in, and insecurity and all that stuff is normal. Players go through that all the time. Part of the process is psychological and being confident he has the ability to do it.”
Bush and the other coaches will do what they can to help with both mechanics and confidence.
“Yeah, he has to make some changes and that’s fine, that’s part of the game, but he is still good enough and we will have to keep reminding him of that,” Bush said. “We have data that will prove that and there’s all kinds of ways we can show him that. So that’s part of the process in between starts is to build him up physically and mentally and get him ready to go.”