Today, the Dodgers acquired right-handed pitcher Roberto Hernandez from the Phillies because, I don’t know, reasons, I guess. (This is not the Dodger reliever of that name who I think I once drunkenly accused of lighting puppies on fire during an extra-inning live blog back in 2007; this is the artist formerly known as Fausto Carmona.)
Hernandez, if that is his real name — oh, wait — turns 34 in a few weeks, and hasn’t been good in… well… ever? Really? I’m kind of doing this stream-of-consciousness as I’m looking at his stats; back when he was Carmona, he got some press for going 19-8 in 2007, his first full season as a starter, but even then his FIP was barely under 4.00. (Wins!) After a disastrous final two years in Cleveland, he went to Tampa Bay for 24 starts last year (4.89 ERA, 4.63 FIP) and had made 20 for the Phillies this year (3.87 ERA, 4.62 FIP). He’s making almost nothing at all, whatever is left on the one-year, $4.5 million deal he signed with the Phillies prior to the season.
When Hernandez succeeds, it’s because he gets ground balls, lots of them, with a career rate of 57.2 percent, among the highest in the bigs. The problem is that despite the ground ball ways, he still gives up homers — approximately one per nine innings — and since he’s having incredible control problems this year, he has the absolute worst K%-BB% in baseball. Somehow, he’s managed four consecutive starts without allowing more than three earned runs, but that came with an 8/6 K/BB and a .172 BABIP. Sustainable!
Look, he’s not good. Not that Cole Hamels was realistic, but this isn’t really the Phillies starter we were hoping for. The real question — other than the identity of the two “players to be named,” which I have no info on but am more than a little worried about — is why is he here? We know Dan Haren has been awful, last night aside, and has that vesting option. We know that Josh Beckett has regression and a painful hip injury staring him in the face. (Yahoo’s Tim Brown alluded to the possibility of Hernandez taking Beckett’s Friday start in Milwaukee.) Is he here to take the spot of an active reliever, given that Paco Rodriguez, Paul Maholm and Chris Perez are all already on the disabled list ? I guess he could take Pedro Baez‘ spot.
Perhaps, more likely, there’s another shoe to drop here, and one of the starters is headed to the disabled list. It’s possible we don’t know the answer today, since Hyun-Jin Ryu is starting and we don’t know exactly where Hernandez is right now. (The Phillies were home last night and today against Houston; Hernandez was to start tonight.) Either way, this is… well, by itself, it’s not really anything. It’s just worrisome about what comes next.