This entry is the latest post from new Phillies Nation writer Eric Floyd.
Dating back to December, when the Phillies dealt their new and promising closer Kenny Giles to the Houston Astros, the back end of the Phillies’ bullpen has been a question mark. Normally a potential proving ground, spring training hasn’t been just that for the veteran hurler the team signed to possibly fill that void, but rest assured that David Hernandez is nearly ready to convince you he’s the guy.
Signed to take on late inning pressure situations, Hernandez has been unable to throw much this spring as he battles a sore tricep. In four seasons pitching in relief for the Diamondbacks, Hernandez recorded 17 saves in 32 opportunities. While that ratio is certainly not remarkable, many of those weren’t as a closer and the last of those opportunities was in 2013, before the right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery, forcing him to miss the 2014 campaign.
With a 4.15 ERA in 309 career big league games, a change of scenery with the confidence of an organization, as well as an increase in volume of save opportunities, should reinvigorate the 30-year-old.
Fans, of course, have been unable to judge the new acquisition for themselves. Hernandez has been limited in Grapefruit League action, pitching in only one game, back on March 1. Since then, he has only appeared in a handful of minor league games as he works his way back from his injury.
His most recent appearance came on Friday. In one inning of work, Hernandez struck out two with his fastball touching 94 MPH.
Hernandez appears to be on track to start the season healthy and available out of the bullpen. Whether he is 100% remains to be seen, but look for Hernandez to be assuming the closer’s role, taking on all the key spots, in the early-going this season.
On the front of the Phillies’ former closer…On Sunday Giles returned to the team’s spring training home in Clearwater sporting a 9.00 ERA for the Astros and it only got worse when he appeared against his previous team. In an inning of work, Giles gave up a trio of hits that plated two earned runs. Led by five hitless innings from Jeremy Hellickson, the Phils were victorious 5-4 over Houston.