A statistical look at the Lions, Tigers, Pistons, Red Wings, Spartans and Wolverines

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Know thy enemy: David Hernandez

For the 2nd straight game, the Tigers are squaring off against a pitcher who at least has a couple of starts under his belt at the big league level. Of course, it is just 8 big league starts. Regardless, we can still get a somewhat accurate picture of David Hernandez from these starts...

Hernandez is 6'3" 215 lb right handed pitcher who is a rookie at the age of 24. This season he has a 3.28 ERA and has gone 5 innings or more in all but two of his 8 starts. In the minors, Hernandez was a huge strikeout pitcher with K/9 totals of 9.54, 10.40 and 10.60 in the past 3 minor league seasons.

By painting that good picture of Hernandez, I think it is time to bring him down to Earth a little bit. While he did strikeout a bunch of batters in the minors, he has just a 4.93 K/9 ratio in the big leagues. Combine that with a 3.47 BB/9 ratio and his K/BB ratio of 1.42 leaves much to be desired. So too do his other peripheral numbers and/or predictive stats. He has a 4.71 FIP (roughly a run and a half higher than his ERA) and even that is deflated by an unsustainable HR/FB ratio of just 6.8%. Thus, his xFIP of 5.86 . Hernandez also has a tRA of 5.05 (noticing a trend here). Without crunching the numbers, he has to have one of the most deceiving ERA's in all of baseball. A lot of that is helped out by a LOB % of 84.9. History would suggest that that is in no way sustainable.

Despite a HR/9 ratio of just 1.09, Hernandez has been an extreme fly ball pitcher. His GB/FB ratio is 0.55. Hernandez is basically a 3 pitch pitcher with a 93 MPH fastball, 78 MPH slider and 84-945 MPH changeup. Thus far on the year, Fan Graphs tells us that his fastball has been his only plus pitch. His splits are virtually identical. Given the small sample size, I'm not sure how much to read into that. But, lefties hit for an OPS of .745 off him and right handed batters hit for an OPS of .786 off him.

Hernandez made a start against us on May 28th (his first big league start... ever). Somehow, he managed to only allow 1 ER. In 5.2 IP, he allowed 5 hits and 4 BB. The Orioles won that game 5-1. Given the small sample size, I would not read too much into that one start against us. But, Grandy did go 2 for 2 with a BB against him. Clete Thomas and Maggs also had hits off him. Inge drew a walk and Thomas did, as well.

As for today... as always, it is hard to say with this offense. We are a league average offense against flyball pitchers with a OPS+ of 100. When we face a pitcher for a second time, our OPS+ is just 91. On the other hand, Cabrera, Thames, Inge, Granderson and Polanco are all plus hitters when facing a flyball pitcher. Given that, and the predictive stats that suggest that he has actually not pitched well this season, he could be due for a huge fall today.

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