Hernandez Could Be A Decent Candidate For Closer

June 07, 2010 |

David Hernandez

Why not give the guy a shot?  It can’t hurt.

Even though the Orioles snapped their 10-game winning streak with a 4-3, 11 inning win over the Boston Red Sox one thing remained the same: the Orioles did not have a guy that could close out the game for a save.

All season the Orioles have struggled to find a guy to find a guy to close out games.  It started with Mike Gonzalez who blew three saves in four tries early in the season before being put on the 60-Day DL with a straight left shoulder.  It moved to Jim Johnson, who is also on the DL with a shoulder injury.  Then to Cla Meredith who was sent down to the minor league and has a 13.50 ERA in two appearances at Norfolk.  It finally seemed to settle on Alfredo Simon, who recorded six saves and blew just one while shutting out his opponents five out of his seven attempts.  But once again, another Orioles relief pitcher hit the DL as he strained his left hamstring.

While Simon should not be out long, and should get his closer job back when he returns, I would still look at other options if I were the Orioles, in particular David Hernandez.

After Will Ohman blew a save and caused the game to go into extra innings, Hernandez came in and pitched two dominant innings in which he gave up just one run before recording his second win of the season.

Even since last year Hernandez struck me as a guy that could see some success in a closing role.  He has a very strong and powerful arm, but as the innings wore on he tended to slow down a bit.  Managers usually try to let their strong arms start (heck, even Jonathan Papelbon was a starting pitcher for a very brief time), but sometimes the strongest arm is best suited for a short period of time at the end of the game.

Hernandez is a very talented pitcher, but he often lost his quality stuff after he got into the fourth and fifth innings, which is a big reason for his 4.81 season ERA.  But as shown in his two innings against the Red Sox, Hernandez can be incredibly hard to hit in short periods when he does not have to pace himself to stay on the mound deep into games.

I’m not saying he is the answer at closer, because Alfred Simon has, more than anyone, deserved a chance to lock down the spot, but with just 16 wins this late into the season it could be worth a shot to experiment and test him in more last game situations.