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Clayton Richard Needs To Go

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The big lefty has been almost useless this season, and fans have to wonder how long he will remain in the Cubs' bullpen.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

I've seen enough.

Seeing Cubs left hander Clayton Richard enter Wednesday night's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in relief of Jake Arrieta, who hurled seven shutout innings and allowed just two hits, made me reach for my remote control and nearly hit the channel button.

Why? Because I knew what was coming.

To the surprise of no one, or at least myself, Richard left his sinker in the middle of the zone all night. He allowed three straight hits to Chase Utley, Corey Seager and Adrian Gonzalez and surrendered the game's first run before being pulled by manager Joe Maddon. Adam Warren entered the game for Richard, and after giving up a sacrifice fly to Howie Kendrick, Richard's ERA had ballooned to 8.00 on the season and his WHIP had increased to 2.11.

Before I continue, I want to acknowledge that Richard was acquired last season as an emergency starter before being moved to the bullpen. And for the most part, Richard did his job. He threw 42⅓ innings in 2015 and struck out 22 while walking only seven in 23 appearances. He posted a 3.83 ERA and 1.28 WHIP, and in the playoffs he pitched 4⅔ innings without allowing a run, striking out three and walking one.

But in 2016, Richard has been almost useless as a relief pitcher. He's appeared in 16 games but has only logged nine innings. How is that possible, you ask? In eight of those appearances he pitched a third of an inning or less, and in three of those appearances he failed to record a single out.

I know, it's common for LOOGYs (Lefty One Out GuYs) to only pitched a third of an inning. However, Richard has allowed seven hits in games he's pitched a third of an inning or less, and he's allowed SIX hits in his last two thirds of an inning. To make matters worse, left handed batters are hitting .435 against him with 10 hits in 23 at-bats.

Simply put, Richard cannot get batters out, particularly lefties. And if you cannot enter a game and record a single out on more than one occasion, one has to question what you're doing on a major league roster.

Maddon said after Tuesday's game that he has faith in Richard, but my patience has run out. If Travis Wood had been available for that game, no doubt he would've been in the game instead of Richard. But because Wood pitched four innings of relief two days ago, Richard was the only lefty available, and he demonstrated once again why the Cubs need to find a legitimate left handed reliever at the trade deadline or call up a prospect like Gerardo Concepcion, who has pitched over 27 innings of relief at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa and surrendered just TWO runs.

Considering how little Richard has pitched this season compared to other Cubs relievers, is his roster spot so valuable that it's not worth giving a player like Concepcion or another major league pitcher a look? Considering Concepcion is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter, why not give him the call and see what he can do? I understand waiving Neil Ramirez, as he isn't left handed and had struggled to reclaim his 2014 form, but I'm failing to see the purpose of keeping Richard on the 25-man roster.

Maybe I'm jumping the gun, but I can't help but wince whenever I see No. 33 enter the game for the Cubs.