Marlins right-hander Trevor Richards has surfaced as a trade candidate in advance of next week’s deadline, but he’s now changing roles. Richards will shift to the Marlins’ bullpen, and fellow righty Elieser Hernandez will take his spot in the Marlins’ rotation, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com relays. That could make Richards more expendable to the Fish, as Frisaro writes that he’s “the primary candidate to be dealt” among their starting options.
Richards’ most recent start, a loss to the White Sox this past Monday, didn’t go well. Although he notched seven strikeouts against one walk, the 26-year-old yielded seven earned runs on seven hits (two home runs) over five innings. Richards has now gone seven straight starts of fewer than six innings, which reflects the difficulty he has encountered against opposing lineups the more they’ve seen him.
While Richards has held enemy teams to a .310 weighted on-base average the first time through the order and a .279 wOBA the second trip, they’ve smashed him for a .416 mark during the third go-around. Based on that, perhaps Richards is better suited for a bullpen job, though as someone who only averages 91 mph on his fastball, he doesn’t look like an intimidating late-game presence in the making.
Despite his recent struggles as a starter, Richards has largely been a usable back-end arm since he made his major league debut a year ago. He entered Friday with 109 innings of 4.62 ERA/4.78 FIP pitching, 8.26 K/9, 4.05 BB/9 and a 35.4 percent groundball rate this season.
Frankly, there’s little to nothing worth getting excited about over “a usable back-end arm.” But the fact that Richards is making the league minimum this season and still has two years of pre-arbitration control left could appeal to a team looking to fill out the end of its starting staff or its bullpen on the cheap. Should Richards stay in Miami past the deadline, it’s “likely” he’ll work as a reliever for the foreseeable future, Frisaro suggests. He threw a scoreless, two-strikeout inning out of the Marlins’ bullpen in a win over the Diamondbacks on Friday.