After designating veteran pitcher Livan Hernandez for assignment last week, the Atlanta Braves have released the right hander into the wild to be consumed by the most desperate team in the vicinity for a prorated portion of the league minimum salary.
Hernandez had a topsy turvy time coming out of the bullpen for the first time in his career since beginning his big league career in 1996. While back to back appearances spread out over two weeks (red flag, much?) resulted in a cornucopia of earned runs for the 37 year old, prior to that, Hernandez had pitched nine innings over seven appearances without allowing a run.
Overall, his numbers aren’t that bad with a 14% strikeout rate matched with a 5.9% walk rate. However, it’s likely too much to expect Hernandez to be of much value as a starter, given the massive decrease in velocity that his 84 miles per hour sinker now exhibits. Relying on smoke and mirrors might allow the pitcher to get through the order once, but multiple times is just asking for trouble.
So far this season, Hernandez has made ten appearances in which he’s pitched less than two full innings. In only one of those appearances has he allowed a run to be scored against him. He’s made eight appearances in which he’s pitched two innings or more, and only two times out of those eight did he not allow a run.
There would be absolutely no risk involved in handing Hernandez a Minor League contract to stretch out his arm in Triple A, and see if he can eat up some innings as a starter, but frankly, desperation would have to be the prime motivation for such a strategy.
And again we come back to that word: desperate.
The most desperate team for pitching help right now in baseball might be the Toronto Blue Jays, whose starting rotation hopelessness extended so far as to spawn rumours linking them to Jeremy Guthrie of the Colorado Rockies over the weekend.
With three starters going down to injury last week, desperate times call for desperate measures, but Livan Hernandez isn’t likely to offer the Blue Jays a significant dent in the all you can innings buffet that its patched up rotation is currently visiting. A more likely scenario sees Hernandez going to a team that merely requires a little bit of bullpen help to get them over whatever hump stands in their way.