Richard Fills Peavy’s Shoes

Perhaps one of the most remarkable parts of the Padres run to the playoffs is the fact that they’ve done it just one season after trading their ace Jake Peavy to the White Sox for four young pitching prospects. Although there was certainly some promise in that package, it was hard to imagine a situation in which the Padres pitching staff – particularly, the starting rotation – didn’t take a hit without the presence of Peavy.

The main driving force behind the San Diego rotation has been young stud Mat Latos. The second was one of the pitchers brought back from Chicago in exchange for Peavy: Clayton Richard. Richard has fit right into PETCO Park, throwing 159 innings with an ERA of 3.55 and a FIP right behind at 3.60. Overall, Richard has already posted 2.3 WAR this season, which compares quite favorably to Peavy’s 2.7 mark in 2008 and his injury limited 1.8 mark in 2009.

Now, Richard is not yet as good a pitcher as Peavy was in his heyday as a Padre. Surely, Peavy was a benefactor of his home park, but still, his K-rates eclipsed one per inning every season from 2004-2007 and again in 2009. Peavy’s walk rates which hovered between 2.5 and 3.1 per nine innings prevented him from posting elite defensive-independent numbers. Particularly in 2008 and 2009, when Peavy’s walk rates settled around 3.0, Peavy fell from elite to merely above average.

Richard simply doesn’t have the strikeout ability that Peavy did, as his K/9 is a career high 7.1 this season. Richard’s walk rate also sits at 3.6, well above any mark that Peavy ever posted in San Diego.┬áBut Richard induces far more ground balls – 48% against Peavy’s 42% career mark – and that has helped Richard keep the ball in the yard this season. which is partially due to Petco Park and partially due to a bit of luck, but it’s a big reason why Richard has had so much success this year. As Richard’s luck regresses, he won’t be able to equate Peavy’s results from even his down 2008 and 2009 campaigns, but a 4.13 xFIP suggests that Richard should still be a productive member of the rotation, and at age 26, he has room to grow.

Jake Peavy is set to earn $59 million over the next three seasons. Over that same span, Clayton Richard will make $400 thousand in 2011 and then two arbitration rewards in 2012-13. The updated ZiPS system projects Richard to post a 3.77 FIP against 3.89 from Peavy. For the Padres to get out from under that massive contract while adding a pitcher who can replace the production is just an incredible, incredible find, as Clayton Richard looks to be a key for the Padres franchise both for now and the conceivable future.

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17 Responses to “Richard Fills Peavy’s Shoes”

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  1. TheUnrepentantGunner says:

    off topic: Strasburg is reported to need TJ surgery. Goodbye trade value, and there’s another case of a 100+ mile per hour fastballer blowing out their arm in recentish memory.

    Anyone want to take a projected guess at career K’s, WAR, etc now for Strasburg? A wager if not a guess?

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  2. James says:

    I can’t help but wonder what a White Sox rotation of Buehrle, Floyd, Danks, Hudson, and Richard would’ve done this year (especially considering the money going to Peavy/Garcia could’ve gone to shore up the bullpen and/or bench – and Poreda probably would be in the pen).

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    • MikeS says:

      Assuming Richard would have been the same guy in a smaller ballpark against American League lineups with a worse defensive team behind him.

      You can say you’ve adjusted for park and league all you want but it’s still just a model and models aren’t perfect.

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      • dan woytek says:

        as someone who has seen poreda pitch this year. I don’t believe you would want his walk per inning anywhere close to the white sox bullpen

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      • James says:

        I’m going off how he pitched for the White Sox last year and his performance since – significantly more consistent than Garcia. Hudson was never really given much chance on the Sox, it was clear they were looking at him as a stopgap, and that has to affect you mentally.

        Same deal with Poreda, he looked performed alright in ’09 on the Sox. As a situational lefty guy and occasional innings eater, I think he would’ve performed as well as most of the other guys in the pen. With San Diego, he has to know he has no shot at cracking their pen anytime soon regardless of his performance down there (Bell, Adams, Gregerson, Thatcher, Stauffer, Frieri, Webb are all ahead of him). I would be willing to bet he would perform better in a different situation. There are also guys that perform better in the majors than they do in the minors (I believe Ryan Webb has been pulling that one off this year). I would take a flyer on him if I was a GM of another team. The disparity in his walk rate between Chicago and San Diego is inexplicable.

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      • James says:

        Looking at his numbers – I’m off on Webb doing worse in the minors this year – or maybe he got shelled down there his first coupled outings at the beginning of the year. I remember someone they were saying pitched well in SD but couldn’t get people out in the minors.

        Richard gives you almost the same performance every outing (6 innings, a few walks, a few k’s, a couple runs), which is perfect for a 4th/5th guy. He’s got a lot of room for improvement too.

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      • Marver says:

        Poreda started spring training with a legitimate shot of making the bullpen.

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      • James says:

        That’s not really true re:Poreda having a shot at making the pen, unless you think they were willing to carry 8 guys in the pen (which I think is unrealistic given the presence of Stairs as one of the bench guys)… Gallagher and Stauffer were out of options, so unless one of them was traded or blew out their arm in the spring, there wasn’t a spot (Bell, Gregerson, Adams, Thatcher, Mujica, Stauffer, Gallagher = 7 in the pen).

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  3. M says:

    Its good to see some reasons to attribute the padres success, but when his article takes it down a level to explain Richard’s success, it attributes it to luck. That seems to be the common theme in any explanation of the Padres 2010 season. It is hard to wrap your head around that, but there are just some things in baseball that can’t yet be quantified. And maybe they shouldn’t.

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    • maestro876 says:

      I’m not really sure that luck has a whole lot to do with it.

      The Padres have the best defense in baseball, which helps them prevent more runs than their defense independent stats say they should. They have the best bullpen in baseball, which means that if they have a lead by the 6th inning or so, the game is generally over. Their offense is actually average-to-good, once you adjust for Petco Park. Put all those things together and you’ve got a pretty good team.

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  4. Sox27 says:

    I’m going to deviate from the usual discussion points on advanced metrics and rant a little bit about this trade from a Sox fan perspective. I hated this deal when it was made solely because of the money involved on Peavy’s contract vs the cost controlled contracts of Richard and Poreda. Peavy’s contract now coupled with the question marks surrounding his health moving forward just make me sick to my stomach. The Sox are really hamstrung by Peavy’s contract as they have holes they need to fill in RF, 3B, C, SP, RP, and potentially 1B assuming Paulie isn’t brought back. I can’t help but be upset about this trade and how it could conceivable se this organization back for years.

    On a side note, I remember facing Clayton Richard in the Indiana State Tournament in 2001 and beating him, he’s in the big leagues and I sell copiers for a living…life is depressing

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    • James says:

      Until they get a new GM, that’s how it’s going to be… I personally think he makes moves for the sake of making moves and to live up to his reputation, does too much tinkering, and doesn’t give young guys the chance to develop. At least they spend to the budget. A healthy Peavy (which is always a big if) would have justified the move, as evidenced by his performance earlier. I’m just glad he didn’t do anything stupid and overpay for Dunn.

      I hope Konerko comes back, but they didn’t pay Viciedo to play in the minors (although he might need the work on pitch selection and fielding), and they didn’t pay Teahen to sit on the bench. I think Danks will be traded sooner or later (maybe this offseason?) if he doesn’t agree to an extension, and I don’t know what they’ll replace him with.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I’m usually on here defending KW, as at least an “average” to good GM, given the key parts he has acquired (for nothing).

        But, I do agree that he is, sometimes unecessarily, a risk taker, and seems to take great pride in it … as if going against the grain was the only way to go.

        Alex Rios has been a big plus, but Peavy was high risk, and the injury is hurting (bad pun).

        Richard wasn’t all that impressive as a CWS. I think point that he’s “as good” as Gracia is fair, but the CWS weren’t just looking to replace Garcia or a 5th starter with the trade, they were looking to upgrade significantly. That hasn’t worked out and almost allof the numbers are below career average, especially K/9 and strand rate.

        But, Richard’s increased K’s and MUCH lower HR/9 numbers could be solely due to [1] NL, and [2] Petco.

        If the Sox were looking to replace a 5th starter, then Richard would likely still be a CWS. But, they were looking to add a “4th horse”, sionce the thinking was that the offense would struggle and they would be a pitching first team. It hasn’t paid off, but Richard pitching in the AL and in US Cellular isn’t make or break (but the money saved would be nice).

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  5. Kyle says:

    Wow… comparing Richard to Peavy is sort of insane, but I’m beginning to expect that from Fangraphs. Richard is a career 23-15, with an ERA of 4.25 and is 27 years old. Peavy, just two years older with a better fastball, and an arsenal of pitches is 102-74 with a 3.36 ERA and a much lower WHIP. Richard’s WHIP of 1.40 shows he’s purely a product of Petco while Peavy’s ERA while with the White Sox is 1.17.

    Richard would still be getting shelled in the American League, but Peavy was starting to hit his stride with the Sox but got hurt again. You’ll win this argument after Richard wins a Cy Young Award, has seasons with ERA’s under 3 while striking out tons of guys. Petco helps most pitchers obviously, and destroys a few hitters, but Peavy has had success(in a limited sample size admittedly)in the A.L. He’ll be just 30 next year, and have 2 years left on his contract so I wouldn’t freak out just yet. He’s an ace when healthy, and with Edwin Jackson pitching like Bob Gibson for the Sox, and Manny on his way(I believe), your payroll will skyrocket, but they can easily upset both the Yankees and Red Sox.

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  6. Daniel Andrews says:

    If the White Sox gave Richard a chance like they did Danks they would be fine. They wouldn’t have missed Freddie Garcia one bit and if they acquired Edwin Jackson it would have been a plus. Flyball pitchers like Peavy are going to have a hard time pitching in Chicago at either stadium. As far as the White Sox defense compared to Padres it’s a wash, I don’t care what the zone ratings say. Konerko still has decent range and digs balls out of the dirt as good as anyone around, I’d take the white sox infield defenders over padres any day of the week right now especially with Tejeda now playing SS for the padres.

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  7. Paul says:

    Please allow me to indulge some hindsight. First let me say that for nearly every win that Kenny Williams has had it seems more reasonable options could have been had at the minor league level that wouldn’t put the sox P&L in peril. If he could just rely on his farm back ground instead of the warmth of the spotlight and constantly indulging his manager who loves to give outs away as if they were candy on Halloween night, the sox could have been in immaculate shape going into ’11.

    The sox rotation might have looked like this: Danks, Floyd, Gio, Hudson and Richard. Some might be asking where would Buehrle be in all of this; possibly st. louis with ryan ludwick and someone like bryan anderson and a live arm coming back to the south side.

    Around the diamond, they would have to break in a few rookies but thats a good thing and they could still make a decision on Konerko or a FA 1B in the off season like Dunn or Laroche or an in house option like Viciedo. DH – Quentin, C – Anderson? Flowers? 1B – Konerko or Viciedo or FA, 2B – Beckham, SS – Ramirez, 3B – Morel or Teahen and an OF of Sweeney, Rios and Ludwick and possibly Teahen.

    The bullpen would look much like it does today with poreda, carter and de los santos to call up if need be.

    They would’ve had an average looking farm system to go get a piece they might need and plenty of money to get the premier bat possibly in the OF or 1B, with plenty left to lock up a fair amount of that young talent.

    Anyways thanks for allowing me to rosterbate fangraphs.

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