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Cubs designate Clayton Richard for assignment

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Cubs have designated Clayton Richard for assignment after three starts.

There was a bit of consternation when the Pirates traded Richard to the Cubs a few weeks back. The trade, of course, took place because the Cubs had a spot for Richard on their active roster and there was a clause in Richard's minor-league deal with the Pirates that forced them to either put him on their own 25-man or trade him to a team willing to do so. The Pirates traded Richard to the Cubs because they had to, but you hate to see your team helping a division rival, and Richard had produced a 1.89 ERA in the Pirates' system.

Of course, things didn't really work out for Richard in Chicago, and this is why judging a pitcher based on his ERA isn't usually a good idea. Richard's 4.4 K/9 and spotty past track record both suggested very strongly he wasn't capable of contributing at in the big leagues. With the Cubs, he got a win in his first start but bumbled through the next two, both of which ended up being Cubs losses. Overall, he struck out six batters and walked five while producing a 5.40 ERA in 15 innings. Those strikeout and walk numbers were very consistent with what he did in Indianapolis, and after three starts, the Cubs had seen enough.

Richard did produce a promising 55.2 percent ground ball rate in those three starts, and he's certainly worth stashing on a Triple-A roster somewhere. And, obviously, 15 innings is a small sample size (although the Cubs' quick hook with Richard suggests they weren't as enamored with him as some Pirates fans were). But Richard's case still shows pretty clearly why ERA isn't the most useful statistic.