The Cincinnati Reds have been involved in serious discussions with David Hernandez according to Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The right handed reliever will be 33-years-old next year (birthday is in May). He’s been in the Major Leagues since 2009 and has a career 4.00 ERA.

But, he’s been better than that over the last two seasons. In 2016 with the Phillies his ERA was 3.84, and last season with two teams it was 3.11. The two seasons, however, were quite different. In 2017 walk rate dropped off significantly. In 2016 he walked 10% of the batters he faced. That rate dropped to 4.2% last season. Essentially he went from a slightly below-average walk rate to a borderline elite walk-rate.

The other big change that David Hernandez made during 2017 was increasing his rate of ground balls. At no point in his career had he ever had a ground ball rate over 39.4%, and was often far lower than that. If you haven’t been living under a rock, then you know that Great American Ballpark is a place where fly balls tend to go over the fence more frequently than most other ballparks. In 2017, Hernandez raised his ground ball rate to 43%, easily the best of his career (where his rate is just 33%).

The reason for that could be that in 2017 he began to throw fewer fastballs and curveballs, while adding in a cutter that he threw 23% of the time. According to Fangraphs, each of his three pitches played out as above-average or better during the year.

For David Hernandez to make sense for the Reds, aside from how much they will or won’t be paying him, comes down to a few things. First, will be the ground ball rate. The 43% rate in 2017 isn’t great, but it’s doable. His previous rates, though, would likely be very concerning given the home ballpark. The other thing would be his walk rate. Last season it was outstanding, but in the past it’s been mediocre. If both of those rates remained the same as they were in 2017, he makes a lot of sense. If either of those rates revert back to his career norms, or if both do, he could be a questionable fit.

At this point, it’s just all talk and speculation. He could sign with another team if he chooses. But, it’s an interesting target for the Reds who are looking to add another arm to the bullpen.


36 Responses

  1. Greenfield Red

    It appears to me the signing of Hughes and the fact they’re still looking for bullpen help, the Reds don’t want to move Reed or Garrett to the bullpen. This I agree with.

    I am for moving Mella and maybe Jackson, but that’s it for now. If Stephenson beats out Romano, and there are no injuries, that puts Romano, Garrett, Reed, Mahle, Lopez, and Reyes in Louisville. That’s pretty good in my opinion.

    • Wes

      I agree w you but question reds. Garrett seems like he has closer written all over him. There’s a need in the pen and he struggled las season pitching a starter workload. He’s also been dubbed as someone who will need to switch his whole career. I just don’t understand why reds drag this process out ?

      • CP

        I don’t understand how Garrett has closer written all over him other than he struggled last year. We don’t know if his stuff will play up in shorter stints. We don’t know how that move from being a SP would affect his psyche (happened to Stephenson and Reed it seems).

        I would rather see Garrett given every opportunity to make it as a SP. He has been at is so much less time due to his flirty with basketball for so long.

      • Champ Summers

        I agree with CP. Closer written all over him? His struggles on the mound were his first struggles at any level and they coincided with a hip injury. Let’s see how he looks healthy before making any snap judgments.

      • Wes

        Nearly every scout that’s ever wrote about Garrett dubbed him as someone that will eventually need to move to pen. Coincide that with elite stuff that made him a top 50 prospect in all mlb- that has elite closer wrote all over him!

        I agree and it’s my point exactly that we don’t know how his stuff will play in short stints on a consistent basis and my question is why not go ahead and start to conversion process? Especially with the team need ?

        I’m nervous reds don’t think he’s healthy….love to see an in-depth article on health of all reds injured players

      • MK

        Had communication with Amir last week. He told me everything is good, though I really wasn’t addressing his health specifically.

      • Kap

        The only reason to consider Garrett for the pen right now is the fact that he only has two pitches to work with (fastball and slider). And that’s about it

        If he can’t learn anither pitch, struggles with injurues, or constantly gets shelled in later innings, then the reds should move him to the pen

      • MuddyCleats

        Just my opinion, but I think AG has survived on pure athleticism to this pt? His throwing motion (almost a push) flattens all his pitches out. He has overpowered his way to AAA on raw strength; he needs to make some adjustments if he wants to go further. Both he and Cody Reed need to develop a change-up for RHH; something off speed that plays off their FBs

  2. Scott C

    I see this as a good possibility, as good or better than Hughes, but there are still a lot of “Ifs” in his resume. As far as who, among our young pitchers, will be better as a starter or “closer” (notice not reliever) that would be hard to determine until tried and tested.

    • Wes

      I’m on phone so hard to find but I gather my info from a lot of sources like mlb, ba, john sickle. Basically they all said what kap said under my last post. Only having 2 pitches makes him a future reliever. Been that way ever since he switched to baseball to. So going back like 5 years. Then bring in injury and it seems like a no brainer to me. So I am truly curious and asking why not ?

  3. AllTheHype

    I’m wondering if the addition and effectiveness of his cutter could put him in line for a swing man role, with possible spot starts. He might be too old to stretch back out to that level of innings though.

  4. greg

    One interesting possibility…
    Does Hernandez signing alow reds to cash in on Iglesias?
    Argument for is that it is quite possible that Hernandez could regain former velocity and be 90% as effective as Iglesias.
    At the same time you could get quite a potential haul in return.
    I am not necessarily endorsing that scenario – but it would take away some of the downside.

    • Kap

      Possibly. I just can’t think of any other teams who would pay the steep price of prospects for Iglesias at this point. Maybe Washington but I still can’t see it

      • Alex

        Washington with robles the key piece in the package . Will be Billy’s replacement

      • Bill

        Dodgers need to shore up their bullpen. They also have the prospect depth to tempt the Reds. I’d want Verdugo and Ruiz back as headliners.

      • Kap

        With bryce harper possibly leaving next offseason, the last thing Washington wants to do is lose robles. And the dodgers could, but they will probably be more inclined to sign someone with their unlimited money

      • Alex

        Washington might go all in this year to try and win with Harper. Going after Iglesias would be huge from Washington. Back end if the bullpen was probably their biggest struggle last year .

  5. Thom

    I think everyone forgets just how good Amir was to start the year last hear. He really only started struggling when the Reds sent him down for no reason then he got hurt. I think he has the inside track for the 5th starter spot.

    • Doug Gray

      No, he started struggling three starts before they sent him down. In those three starts he walked 11 batters with seven strikeouts and five home runs allowed in 16.1 innings pitched.

      His first three starts were very good. He had three walks and 21 strikeouts in 19.2 innings. After that, his control took a big step backwards. Now, was that around the time his hip started bothering him? I honestly have no idea. But the narrative that he started struggling when they sent him down just doesn’t hold water.

      That said, I’m looking forward to what he can do with a healthy hip in 2018. He’s got the stuff. He’s just got to be a little more consistent. I think he’ll get a look as a starter in the spring, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t win the job, if they look at him in the bullpen to start the year. But, he could just win a job in the rotation, too, if he’s throwing well in the spring. Right now, though, I think if everyone is healthy, he’s probably 7th or 8th on the depth chart. What Romano and Stephenson did in the second half probably put them at 5/6, in whatever order. Then Mahle probably mixes in for that same 7th/8th spot, heading into the spring, with Garrett.

      What’s nice, though, is assuming everyone is healthy, that’s eight dudes that you’d be fine with having a spot in the rotation.

      • AllTheHype

        Don’t forget Reed. He’s got perhaps the best stuff among those 5/6/7/8 guys you mentioned.

      • Reds4ever

        But Doug rob wet the bed in 2016 he didn’t pitch well and he made the club. He was about as inconsistent as it could get. I just don’t get everyone bashing garrett this is his first bad year since his younger years. Dominated at high A, killed double A and his first year in triple A he held his own. Now everyone is giving up on the kid? Remember rob spent 2 years in Pensacola and was so inconsistent. I’m not giving up on Garrett he had an injury last year, you look at his track record?

      • Doug Gray

        I don’t know who you think is giving up on Garrett, Reds4ever. I’m not really seeing that at all.

        What I am seeing, though, is people saying that he needs to re-establish himself after a down season.

    • Bill

      I wish that were true Thom. He started walking guys in his 4th start. He was knocked out of his 4th start, bounced back in start #5 and then bad again in start #6. The inconsistency started before the Reds demoted him.

      • Reds4ever

        He had a quality start against he giants the night he got sent down, and got the win went 6 innings with 2 runs. Crazy to me that he was 4th in quality starts for the reds and nobody realizes that he had 6.

      • Bill

        I’m still high on Garrett. I just don’t buy the argument that his problems started when the Reds sent him to Louisville. The facts are he walked way too many batters and was mostly poor after a nice 3 game start to his season. He allowed 9 base runners through his 6 innings in start #6 and was fortunate to notch a quality start. All the base runners caught up with him as the season progressed. He wasn’t much better a Louisville either.

        That said, we know he was hurt last year and that his WHIP was about one-half batter worse last year compared to 2016. He’s athletic and until last year, showed continual improvement. If he shows strong command in Spring Training, I think he has an excellent shot to make the team as a starter. If healthy, I really expect a strong bounceback.

    • Colorado Red

      I am wondering, if he was injured before he was sent down, and did not tell anyone?
      Might explain the walks and HRs?

  6. Wes

    Pirates did ok on haul from Houston for Cole considering he only has one season left before free agency. Really surprised at that price though he’s not a yankee.

    Guess pirates trying to stay in mix since 3 best guys they got are all mlb players or ready. That’s good for reds. Pirates window is closing.

      • Wes

        Hmmm….yeah then I would have kept him for that value. I do agree he’s not and has never really been elite but teams are willing to give more closer to deadline and the risk of keeping him is minimal. It’s highly likely he performs better this coming season than last. Unless pirates just saw something in him that reflects permanent declining results.

        I do prefer that haul to what yanks were offering. Clint Frazier seems like fools gold to me.

  7. Cguy

    Add Nick Travieso (who should be ready by late March/early April), Rookie Davis (who could be ready midseason 2018), & Jon Moscot ( could be ready after ASB 2018). These 3 arms could reinforce any decisions the Reds have to make about pitching prospects the first half of 2018.

  8. Piggly Wiggly

    Pirates have DFA’d a SS that could interest Cincinnati. Engelb Vielma had come up in MIN’s farm system. He has been claimed 3 times on waivers this year. Very good glove and a meh bat. But for a back up role, maybe.

    • HavaKlu

      I would pass on Vielma who can’t hit at all and instead sign Daniel Castro who hits much better and is an above average defender.

      • Piggly Wiggly

        I don’t know. I’d look past those inflated Colorado Springs stats. He had 2 chances with the Braves and stunk. P-U.

      • Doug Gray

        Speaking of stinking, that’s what a .618 OPS is. Which is what Vielma has for his career. He had a .493 OPS in Triple-A last season. FOUR NINETY THREE.

  9. Greenfield Red

    Given the subdued free agent market, might it serve the Reds to entertain a medium to high level free agent in a 4 to 6 year deal? I would counter that they have at least as much certainty at almost all positions in their system now as they would have trying to predict free agent production in 3 to 5 years when they are contenders.

    What I’d like to see them do is to include the purchase of a bad contract or two to increase the prospects received in a trade for any of Hamilton, Duvall, Schebler, Gennett, or Iglasias. What would the Dodgers give for Iggy if the Reds also took $20 mil or so of bad money over the next couple of years?