Versatile pitcher ready to hit the market
Micheal Kopech is expected to enter the starting rotation. Despite the promotion, Rick Hahn has made it clear that Kopech will still be under an innings limit. The Chicago White Sox are going to be cautious about how hard they push him in 2022.
The idea of ââresting him occasionally for ten days between debuts and then making him make an appearance or two in the bullpen to stay alert has been raised. Regardless of how they use him, his departure from the pen leaves a void for the White Sox to fill. Garrett Richards might fit the job description.
The Boston Red Sox just turned down Garrett Richards’ one $ 10 million option making him a free agent. Richards posted a 4.87 ERA in 2021. On the face of it, these are unimpressive numbers. He started the season as a starting pitcher for the Red Sox, but was dropped from the rotation after 22 starts.
In those starts, he had an inflated 5.22 ERA to support an alarming 9.5% walk rate in 110 1/3 innings. Richards admitted he used sunscreen and rosin, so a mid-season rule change affected his performance. He regained his form in the bullpen and revitalized his season.
Garrett Richards would be a really solid addition to the 2022 Chicago White Sox.
The 33-year-old veteran recorded three saves and had a 0.87 ERA in his first 20 2/3 innings out of the bullpen. His strikeout rate fell from 17.2% to 29.4%. He also had a ground ball percentage of 48.1 which is advantageous for double plays, especially when he inherited from runners. He’s had a few clunkers that inflated his ERA as a reliever to 3.42.
Not only did his average fastball speed increase from 94.2 mph to 95.3 mph, but he also increased his puff rate from 9.4% to 10.8%. On top of that, opponents failed to get him to pounce like they did when he was in the Red Sox’s starting rotation. The opponents’ average exit speed against him as a reliever was only 89.4 mph, compared to 91.6 mph against him as a starter.
It should be noted that Richard’s sample size as a reliever is small. Because he’s 34 and his best streak as a dominant starter was in 2013-15, his price should be pretty reasonable. His age also suggests he’s in line for a short-term deal.
The versatility offered by Richards is intriguing. He can throw in long relief or late in the game, as shown by his three saves last season. He would also have the option to pitch for the White Sox in a few starts if necessary. As a low call option, Richards could be a profitable addition to the White Sox pitching staff.