Clayton Richard threw two innings today in the B game at Pirate City against the Minnesota Twins. The lefty gave up two hits, including a solo home run to Jorge Polanco, but also struck out four batters. He said that his fastball command was working today. This was the first day he threw his off-speed stuff, and the curveball looked a bit rusty, with one pitch bouncing in the dirt, and another one going for the home run.
It was fitting that Richard threw his two innings in the same game that Vance Worley went three innings. Worley looked so good that he had to throw to extra batters just to get his pitch count up. This performance came against his former team, almost one year after the Twins traded Worley to the Pirates for cash after he bombed in Spring Training and failed to win a spot in the rotation. The Pirates noticed that Worley’s delivery was off after his injury in 2012, and worked to get him back to his old mechanics. Since the change, he has looked like the pre-2012 version of himself, and that performance continued today.
The Pirates have noticed the same thing with Richard, and are working with him on getting back to his old mechanics. I first drew the similarities between the two pitchers back in February, but Ray Searage confirmed today that the problem with Richard is the exact same problem Worley had last year, where his mechanics were off after returning from an injury. Richard had some good numbers in 2010, posting a 3.75 ERA and a 4.04 xFIP over 201.2 innings. That kind of depth out of Triple-A this year would be outstanding, and the Pirates are trying to get him back to those mechanics.
Richard has experienced some “general tightness” that has come over his delivery, and he has worked to loosen the delivery. I talked with him and with Searage about the specifics of the changes that he needs to make. The details can be seen in the video below, along with highlights from Richard pitching in today’s B game, and Clint Hurdle’s reaction to where Richard is at with his adjustments.