Padres lefty Clayton Richard was placed on the disabled list earlier today due to inflammation in his left knee, and manager Andy Green now tells reporters that Richard is headed for season-ending surgery to alleviate discomfort that he’s pitched through since April (Twitter links via MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell and the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee).
Richard, 35 next month, pitched to a respectable 4.43 ERA (4.18 FIP, 4.06 xFIP) with 6.9 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.80 HR/9 and a 57.9 percent ground-ball rate through 124 first-half innings this season. However, his 2018 campaign has gone off the rails in a miserable second half that has seen him (perhaps literally) limp to an 8.57 ERA with 4.1 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, a whopping 2.80 HR/9 and a 53.5 percent grounder rate. Richard is far from a flamethrower, but a look at his season-long velocity charts show that his fastball has dropped in the month of August as well.
Richard is earning a $3MM base salary in 2018 as part of the two-year, $6MM extension he signed with the Padres late last season, and he earned a pair of $250K bonuses for crossing the 125-inning and 150-inning thresholds. He’s under contract for the 2019 season as well at that same $3MM rate and will once again have up to $1.5MM worth of incentives available to him — though he’d need to reach the 200-inning mark for the first time since 2012 in order to do so.
The Padres will likely look to Richard as a stabilizing innings eater in their rotation once again in 2019. While some of their promising young arms have begun to surface at the MLB level — Joey Lucchesi, Eric Lauer and Jacob Nix are among the team’s prospects to debut this season — there’s still a need for a bridging presence while that trio looks to establish themselves. Meanwhile, promising arms like MacKenzie Gore, Chris Paddack, Logan Allen, Cal Quantrill, Adrian Morejon and Michel Baez (among others) continue to work their way toward San Diego as the Padres’ front office eyes aims to compile a homegrown core of arms around which to build.