This is not a notable signing in and of itself. Jeremy Hermida will, at best, be a bat off the bench for Cincinnati. It’s notable, however, because it shows just how powerful first impressions can be.
Hermida raked during a cup of coffee with the Marlins in 2005 and had another nice 120 games with them in 2007. Since then: blahsville. A little pop, a little plate discipline, but probably not enough of either to stick as a corner outfielder. But man, that early promise lingers. It was enough to make two really bright GMs — Theo Epstein and Billy Beane — take a chance on Hermida last season. He flopped in both Boston and Oakland.
I’m not saying the Reds signing of Hermida is based on a fantasy or anything because even if he plays at the level he showed in 2008 and 2009 he’d be useful. I bet, though, that even if he puts up another season like he did in 2010 that he’ll get more chances based on that 2005 and 2007. Why? Because there’s a sense out there that what a player does when he’s young represents his true talent level, and that if given enough time he’ll get back to it. Likewise, there’s a sense that if a player first does well when he’s older, it was a fluke.
Sometimes, though, the fluke seasons come when a player is young. Look at Jeff Francoeur. I think Hermida might be the same kind of player. Not in substance, but at least in terms of career pattern.
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.
Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.
More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.
Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)
It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.