We’ve hit four in a row, six of our last seven and eight of the last ten. I hope nobody minds me pumping out the plays while things are hot.
Clayton Richard has not pitched well in July. He’s lost all three of his decisions in five starts and his ERA has gone up three-quarters of a run (from 4.29 to 5.05) in the process. Walks have been a problem; he’s walked twenty batters to just a dozen strikeouts.
I have a simple explanation for his struggles: four of his five starts this month have been on the road. In fact, eight of his last nine starts have come away from home and he’s got to be tired of that. This season, Richard’s ERA on the road is nearly two-and-a-half runs higher than it is at home and his opponents have an OPS one-hundred points higher on the road than they do at home, despite a BABIP that’s forty points higher at Petco (.271 on the road vs. .311 in San Diego). Over his career, Richard’s splits are just as extreme. Opponents have an OPS 130 points higher on the road against him than they do at home, and he’s pitched for three different teams and in both leagues.
Richard’s only home start this month was a good one: six innings and two earned runs against the Cubs. It’s possible Richard is dealing with fatigue, or mechanical issues, or something else. But we’re talking about a career’s worth of evidence to support the idea that this guy is just way better at home than he is on the road.
He’ll be back at home on Tuesday night against a rookie from the Giants who’s got a 2.75 ERA in nearly sixty innings and hasn’t lost in eight starts. Dereck Rodriguez only walks about two-and-a-half batters per nine innings and gives up less than a hit per inning. He’s also given up only exactly one home run in four of his eleven starts this season (and none in the seven others), so who cares that he’s never struck out more than six batters in a game? He’ll make the Padres earn it and he dominated them over seven innings five weeks ago.
I like the under a lot and I’m not willing to let the bullpen mess it up. So I’m going to play the first five innings for the second game in a row and plan on ending July on a five-game winning streak.