Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Livan Hernandez

Livan Hernandez has outperformed our wildest expecations this year; we never dreamed that at the All-Star break he would be 12-3 and an anchor of one of the league's best pitching staffs.

Hernandez has a lot going for him: he locates the ball well, he mixes speeds well, and he gives up very few homeruns. Although he pitches in a pitcher-friendly park, his underlying numbers on the road are not appreciably worse than they are at home. His K/9 ratio (5.12 at home, 5.35 on the road), K/BB ratio (1.41 at home, 1.58 on the road), and HR/9 ratio (.42 at home, .65 on the road) are all about the same regardless of whether Livan pitches at home or on the road.

We, nevertheless, are skeptical of Hernandez' ability to maintain this level of success. Most of our skepticism is based on the fact that he's become a soft-tosser. He doesn't have a great strikeout-to-walk ratio (78-50), he doesn't strike out a lot of hitters (5.23 per 9 innings), he doesn't have much of a fastball anymore, and he's thrown enough innings to wear out most arms. His strikeout ratios are also deteriorating. In the last three years his K/9 ratio has gone from 6.87 to 6.57 to 5.23, and his K/BB ratio has gone from 3.12 to 2.24 to 1.56. It's true that Hernandez posted more strikeouts in 2003 and 2004 than he did in 2001 and 2002, but his 2001 and 2002 ratios were better than his 2005 ratios.

Livan has built his success on fooling hitters and locating his pitches, and, although there's every reason to think that Hernandez will continue to be a productive major league pitcher, we just can't bring ourselves to believe that he'll continue to fool enough hitters to enjoy anything near this level of success for the rest of the season.

No comments: