It’s not the slow start that matters — it’s how you’re able to recover.
Each of the following 10 MLB players began their respective 2018 seasons in a less-than-stellar fashion (some worse than others). Achieving success on the baseball diamond is all about minimizing those valleys in production as much as possible while also having a short memory, whether times are good or bad.
These guys have successfully done that after looking at how their performances have improved between April and May.
Garrett Richards, SP, Los Angeles Angels
The slow start
First and foremost, the fact that Garrett Richards is healthy and taking the ball consistently is a huge step forward. His 51.2 innings are already the most he’s thrown in a single season since 2014 (207.1).
He did struggle through the month of April, which consisted of 27.2 innings and a 4.88 ERA. Opposing hitters posted a .323 wOBA against him, and while his strikeout rate was up at 29.1%, his walk rate was equally high at 15.0%.
When you’re putting that many people on base, it’d also help to own a strand rate higher than the 64.2% mark he produced in the season’s first month.
Richards’ strand rate has improved slightly to 69.2% through 24 innings of work in May. The right-hander’s 21.7% strikeout rate is a sizable regression from April, but it was also accompanied by a 4.4% walk rate. So, he not only saw his WHIP drop from 1.52 to 0.96, but his ERA went from nearly 5.00 to 1.50.
Outside of an elevated overall walk rate (10.5%), it’d be hard to look at his overall numbers (3.31 ERA and 3.80 SIERA) and realize he struggled out of the gate.