Ray Searage is Taking the Vance Worley Approach With Clayton Richard

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.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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I don’t understand the negativity some folks have here regarding Richard. If he gets his stuff together…and someone goes down….and he’s the best option available, then I hope he pitches and pitches well.


Ray Searage is worth his weight in Pirate gold.


Richard will be ahead of Locke on the SP depth chart because once locke is put in the bullpen and no starter gets hurt after the first month of the season, locke will not have his arm built up enough to start.


The vanimal is joined by clayface! Superheroes convention going on in the burgh! Superclutch, mighty joshyoung, cole45. and a cast of characters to rival the big screen. Get your tix and come on down!

Lee Foo Young

I hope he stays AAA depth. When we got him, I was thing LH RP. I had enough Maholms and Dukes to last a lifetime. He is marginally better than those two, imo.


Does Richard have a realistic chance of becoming more than AAA depth?


theres already 6 better rotation options to start the year not including the better options in AAA later in the year. He could be useful if there were a few injuries early in the season other than that just trade bait.

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