San Diego Padres: Why Isn’t Richard the Ace?

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Apr 4, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Diego Padres relief pitcher Clayton Richard (3) throws to first for an out against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 4, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Diego Padres relief pitcher Clayton Richard (3) throws to first for an out against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports /
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With the first two regular season games in mind, many San Diego Padres fans are wondering why Clayton Richard wasn’t named the Opening Day starter over Jhoulys Chacin.

It has been a tale of two polar opposites for the San Diego Padres to begin the 2017 regular season. On Opening Day on Monday, the club dropped an ugly nationally televised contest by a final 14-3. In response, San Diego rallied and shut out the Dodgers on Tuesday.

Naturally, one of the first thoughts that comes to mind is why exactly San Diego was able to silence the Dodger lineup just a night after allowing four home runs in a beat down. The answer? Clayton Richard.

The 33-year-old left-hander was nothing short of spectacular in his first outing of 2017. Pitching eight scoreless innings, the Dodgers were only able to manufacture five hits, and Richard silenced the lineup in an efficient 99 pitches.

Richard’s strong start to the year is undoubtedly an extremely encouraging sign for fans. Still, a feeling of confusion which many felt when the order of the rotation was announced has resurfaced.

Juxtaposed to Richard’s magnificent game on Tuesday was Jhoulys Chacin‘s disastrous performance on Monday. Against pretty much the exact same lineup, the new Padre ace went just three and a third innings, giving up nine earned runs.

Even if it is a moot point now, wondering why Richard wasn’t the Opening Day starter as anticipated all throughout the winter and spring is legitimate. Clearly, the veteran has the most experience both in the majors and in San Diego’s organization, and is a natural leader willing to lead by example.

Not to belittle the Chacin signing, as adding the right-hander to the rotation for $1.75 million was well worth it. But naming him the Opening Day starter? Quite peculiar to say the least.

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There is still a possibility that Chacin ends up shining in a Padre uniform and proves to be a true “ace”. There is a lot of season left, and one performance can not even begin to approach a full season’s evaluation. But as of now, all signs point to Richard being the strongest starter both statistically and when it comes to other aspects of the game.

Fortunately, in a 162 game season, both the first and second starters get an extra start at the end of the year. Besides that, there is no real significance behind being named to a particular rotation slot. Still, there is a certain dignity which comes with the title of ace, one which nine earned runs in just over three innings far from exemplifies.

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Regardless, Richard and Chacin are two key pieces for the Padres in 2017. The rotation will go as they go. Fans will move beyond the first two games very quickly, but they’ll still ask, why isn’t Richard the ace?

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