Someone was worried about Livan Hernandez's pitch count? Really?

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Livan Hernandez pitches.jpgLivan Hernandez threw 123 pitches against the Braves last night and after the game a reporter asked Jim Riggleman if he was concerned about it.

Which is rather shocking to me, because it’s Livan Hernandez we’re talking about here. The 35 year-old (at least) Livan Hernandez. The Livan Hernandez who has averaged close to 200 innings a year for his career. The same Livan Hernandez who has thrown more than 120 pitches in a game 122 times in his career. The guy has thrown over 150 pitches on three occasions, for crying out loud.  If anyone can handle 123 pitches, it’s Livan freakin’ Hernandez.

Here’s my thing about pitch counts. They’re important with young arms, because studies have shown that pitchers below, say, 25 years old or so benefit with lower workloads. They’re also important for guys who, over the course of their career, either suffer a lot of injuries or show a marked decline in performance when they’re worked hard.

Granted, this covers most pitchers. But not all.  Just as there were some guys back in the day who could throw 250-300 innings year-in, year-out with seemingly no ill-effect, there are no doubt guys today who could do that too if given the chance.  Because of the well-advised caution, however, we just don’t know who they are.  It’d be great if we could figure out who they were definitively because, man, wouldn’t it be awesome if Bruce Bochy could pitch Tim Lincecum 40 times  year without concern for his health. But we just can’t expect teams to take the kinds of risks necessary to figure out whether they have a modern day Fergie Jenkins on their staff.

But I think we can all agree that Livan Hernandez is one of those guys.  He’s not good enough to justify giving him 300 innings in a year, but he could do it. And when he’s pitching well like he has been so far this year, what possible reason would you have for not riding him until he breaks?

Which he probably never will.

Kyle Hendricks and Adam Warren will compete for No. 5 spot in Cubs’ rotation

Chicago Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks throws during the first inning of Game 3 of the National League baseball championship series against the New York Mets Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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Expect Kyle Hendricks and Adam Warren to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Cubs’ starting rotation this spring, writes Gordon Wittenmyer for the Chicago Sun-Times. Clayton Richard could serve as a fallback option as well.

Hendricks, 26, pitched well in his first full season in 2015. He finished with a 3.95 ERA and a 167/43 K/BB ratio over 180 innings. That was a solid follow-up to his rookie campaign in 2014, when he posted a 2.46 ERA over 13 starts.

The Cubs acquired Warren, 28, from the Yankees in the Starlin Castro trade. He contributed both out of the rotation and the bullpen in the Bronx this past season, pitching 131 1/3 innings with a 3.29 ERA and a 104/39 K/BB ratio.

One through four, the Cubs’ rotation is solid with defending National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Jason Hammel.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson plans to limit David Wright to 130 or fewer games

David Wright
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Mets third baseman David Wright missed four months of the 2015 season due to spinal stenosis. In other words, Wright dealt with a narrowing of his spinal column. Going forward, the Mets plan to be cautious with Wright so as not to overuse him.

As ESPN’s Adam Rubin reports, Mets GM Sandy Alderson plans to have the 33-year-old Wright play in no more than 130 games. Alderson said, “We’re gonna make sure that he’s not overworked. So it’s important for us to find somebody who can play 30 games or so at third base when he’s not in there. But I think we have to be realistic, and not expect that he’s gonna be an absolute everyday [player] out there playing 150 or 155 games. That’s not gonna happen.”

Wilmer Flores played 26 games at third base in his rookie season in 2013, so he could back up Wright as needed. But Alderson mentioned that because Wright would mostly sit against right-handed pitchers, the switch-hitting Neil Walker or Asdrubal Cabrera could get the call at the hot corner.

When he was on the field last season, Wright hit a productive .289/.379/.434 with five home runs and 17 RBI in 174 plate appearances.

Marlins still searching for starting pitching depth

Aaron Harang
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The Marlins would like to add “another pitcher or two” before pitchers and catchers report to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes. Among starting pitchers available, Kyle Lohse, Aaron Harang, and Alfredo Simon are candidates for the Marlins, but they may hold out for the possibility of inking a major league contract. Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee are other potential candidates, per Frisaro.

This offseason, the Marlins signed Wei-Yin Chen to a five-year, $80 million deal and Edwin Jackson for the major league minimum. The back of the rotation, though, is still a question mark as Jarred Cosart, Adam Conley, and Justin Nicolino will compete with Jackson for two spots. David Phelps is dealing with an elbow injury and may or not be ready by Opening Day, but he could function in a swingman capacity as well.

Shocker: Bruce Bochy tabs Madison Bumgarner to start Opening Day

Madison Bumgarner
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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You might want to sit down for this news. Giants manager Bruce Bochy has tabbed ace Madison Bumgarner to start on Opening Day in Milwaukee against the Brewers, CSN Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic reports. Shocking, I know.

The Giants had a busy offseason, adding Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to the starting rotation, but neither had a shot at getting the Opening Day nod considering what Bumgarner has done for the Giants over the last five seasons.

Since the start of the 2011 season, the 26-year-old lefty compiled a 3.05 ERA with 1,034 strikeouts and 239 walks across 1,050 innings. Among starters who logged at least 800 innings in that span of time, only Clayton Kershaw, Cueto, Zack Greinke, David Price, and Felix Hernandez have posted lower ERAs.  And Bumgarner is the only one among them with a championship ring. In fact, he has three.