Livan 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.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.
Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.
The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.
Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.
The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.
He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.