SAN DIEGO -- In a season that's seen the Padres use 13 different starting pitchers due to an improbable accumulation of injuries, only two pitchers, Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard, have made every one of their scheduled first-half starts.
Richard, in particular, has been a model of durability: his 119 2/3 innings pitched are the seventh most in the Majors so far this year, and his 18 starts are tied for the league's second-highest total. Volquez has also started 18 games.
"There's nothing more valuable to a team than your best five starting pitchers making every turn from April first," manager Bud Black said. "Clayton was projected to be one of those five. ... He's held up his side of the bargain. The durability factor is essential to a team's success."
Making the southpaw's stamina so far this year all the more impressive is the fact that Richard missed most of the second half of last season after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder.
"When you're coming back from surgery ... you might not come back equally as proficient as you were when you left," Black said. "Through spring training until now, I think we've seen a gradual progression of his stuff: More life on the ball, more consistency in his secondary pitches."
The 29-year-old Richard certainly seems to be suffering no lingering effects, something that is largely the result of his extensive workout regimen. The former University of Michigan quarterback maintains a thorough between-start routine to ensure that his 6-foot-5, 245-pound frame is primed for each and every start.
"He's a great worker," Black said. "You cannot deny Clayton's tremendous work ethic. His everyday work between starts is as good as any pitcher I've ever seen."
Richard is 6-9 this year with a 3.91 ERA. Despite yielding six runs in six-plus innings in his last outing Saturday, he has put together an impressive first-half resume that includes eleven quality starts. As for Volquez, he also has 11 quality starts and is 5-7 with a 3.52 ERA.