Tampa Bay Rays: Top 8 Candidates for 2020 Rotation

Blake Snell (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Blake Snell (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /
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Trevor Richards (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

7. Trevor Richards

Trevor Richards was acquired by the Rays at the trade deadline of last season. The Rays exchanged Jesus Sanchez and Ryne Stanek across the state to Miami in exchange for Richards and reliever Nick Anderson.

Anderson has put up stunning numbers in a Rays’ uniform, but Richards has also proven to be a solid acquisition as well.

Richards dominated the Marlins’ minor league system between 2016-2018, never posting more than a 2.53 ERA. That included his final stop in Triple-A where he held opposing hitters to a 2.06 earned run average.

During his rookie season in 2018 with the Marlins, he got some hopes up for what was to come. He started 25 games and posted a 4.42 ERA with the fish. He had more strikeouts (130) than innings pitched (126.1).

On April 14th Richards threw a seven-inning shutout, using just 82 pitches against the Pirates, becoming the first Marlins’ rookie to pitch seven frames while allowing two or fewer hits since 2015.

Later in the month, he struck out 10 Dodgers in 4.2 innings, becoming only the sixth rookie to pull off 10Ks in less than five innings since 1913.

Richards was pegged as a potential breakout player for the Marlins as the 2019 season approached. His performance was headed in the opposite direction of the Marlins’ expectations. He started 20 games with the Marlins and made three relief appearances, posting a 4.50 ERA.

He saw his strikeout rates go down and his walks per nine go up. He was moved to a bullpen role just days before being traded to the Rays. Richards had put together an eight-start run in which he posted a 6.33 ERA with an 0-7 record.

Prior to that rough stretch, he had a 3.53 ERA. The Rays must have still liked the potential in the 6-2 righty, as they pulled the trigger before the trade deadline.

A change of scenery and the reinvigoration of being in a playoff race might have done the trick for Richards. He finished up the season with a 1.93 ERA making three starts and four relief appearances for Tampa Bay.

Strikeouts per nine went back north of nine and his walks per nine reached an all-time low of 1.9 batters.

If you remove the eight-game stretch with the Marlins, Richards had some impressive numbers last season.

If he continues to improve upon the solid foundation he’s built thus far, he could force his way into the back end of the rotation this year. The competition is stiff with players like the one on the next slide standing in the way.