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The Red Report 2019 - David Hernandez

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Can he repeat his brilliant 2018?

MLB: Cincinnati Reds-Media Day Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Fast Facts

  • Born on May 13, 1985 in Sacramento, CA
  • Former teammate of Mike Trout
  • Attended Elk Grove (CA) High School, which also produced Nick Madrigal, the #4 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft (via Oregon State University)
  • Later attended Cosumnes River College, alma mater of both former Red Kris Negron and long-time big leaguer Jermaine Dye
  • Might have Mike Trout’s phone number
  • Set to earn $2.5 million in 2019, his final year under contract

Organizational History

  • Drafted in the 29th round of the 2003 MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies out of Elk Grove (CA) HS, but did not sign
  • Drafted in the 34th round of the 2004 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks out of Cosumnes River College, but did not sign
  • Drafted in the 16th round of the 2005 MLB Draft by the Baltimore Orioles out of Cosumnes River College, signed
  • Traded by Baltimore to Arizona with Kam Mickolio for Mark Reynolds and a PTBNL on December 6, 2010
  • Signed 1-year, $3.9 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies on December 9, 2015
  • Signed minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants on February 14, 2017, released on March 24
  • Signed minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves on March 26, 2017
  • Traded by Atlanta to the Los Angeles Angels on April 24, 2017
  • Traded to Arizona from Los Angels on July 31, 207
  • Signed 2-year, $5 million contract with Cincinnati Reds on 1/30/18

Career Stats

Scouting Report

David Gifnandez

Projections

Outlook

As a 24 year old rookie back in 2009, David Hernandez pitched to a 5.42 ERA and brutal 6.61 FIP in 101.1 IP, starting 19 games while the owner of a brutal 1.48 K/BB. So, kids, even though it’s been easy to look at the flounderings of the bevy of talented young pitchers the Cincinnati Reds have rolled out the last few seasons, keep in mind that there are still countless stories of failed starters who have eventually rounded into the form of pretty danged good relievers.

After a rock solid 2018 season, David Hernandez can stake a pretty firm claim to being one of those.

His 2018 was slightly delayed, you’ll remember, by an arm injury that cost him almost the entire month of April - and that’s why we got to see the lovely fill-in performances of relievers Yovani Gallardo, Tanner Rainey, and Zach Weiss - but eventually fired 64 innings of 2.53 ERA ball. Smash those stats together with his good, albeit well-traveled 2017 season, and over the last two years he’s pitched to a 2.80 ERA in 119 IP, with an elite 117/26 K/BB in that time. That’s a 155 ERA+, mind you, while also demonstrating an absurdly good command of the strike zone, and that’s the kind of excellence that should have made him one of those high-priced late-inning relievers in the free agent market.

Heck, Kelvin Herrera and his 127 ERA+ over the last two seasons just inked a 2-year, $18 million deal this winter, Joe Kelly and his 123 ERA+ over the last two seasons landed 3 years and $25 million, and Adam Ottavino and his silly curveball signed for 3 years and $27 million on the heels of a 138 ERA+ since the start of 2017. Hernandez, you’ll remember, is making just $2.5 million this year in the second season of a 2-year, $5 million contract. Well done, Reds front office.

As for the 2019 season, well, the hope is that Hernandez can again pair with Jared Hughes as the frontmen for super-leverage-utilization-guy Raisel Iglesias in the back of the Cincinnati bullpen, or perhaps even pick up the occasional ‘save’ if manager David Bell does choose to actually use Iglesias in situations in the 7th inning, or so. Odds are, he’ll see a bit of regression in 2019 after pitching to a .248 BABIP in 2018, but considering his excellent 2017 season featured a rather normal .297 BABIP, even that would be more than palatable. It does appear the projection systems have baked that in to their somewhat negative outlook on his 2019 chances - with Marcels and ZiPS being the most bullish on him.

All told, I anticipate he’ll be just fine back there once more, although perhaps not quite as electric as he was in 2018, simply because that’s just hard to replicate. One thing that’s important to note is that his excellent last two seasons have coincided with a significant change in his pitch repertoire, as he turned to a slider for the first time in his career in 2017 and has since leaned on it roughly 20% of the time - and last year, in particular, it was a very valuable pitch for him. So, perhaps there’s more to his 2019 projections than simply a look at who he was long before 2017, since he’s completely reinvented himself in that time to rather brilliant results.

For the Reds, the hope is that all rolls together for another excellent bargain of a season in 2019.