Livan Hernandez was signed by the Twins to take over where Johan Santana left off. While nobody expected him to put up the same numbers as the former Cy Young winner, he came into the 2008 season as the 'ace' of this young rotation.
Back in April, the pitching rotation looked like this:
1. Livan Hernandez
2. Francisco Liriano
3. Scott Baker
4. Boof Bonser
5. Kevin Slowey
How does this rotation rank now? Is Livan really the ace we thought he was?
Let's look at some numbers and see how he compares to the other pitchers on this Minnesota Twins team.
One of the stats that I personally enjoy studying is WHIP. Walks plus hits per inning pitched. The basic premise of the statistic is how many base runners a pitcher allows on average for every inning pitched.
Although it doesn't measure how many times a pitcher surrenders a run, I still find it helpful.
I chose not to include Liriano in this discussion because he isn't playing a huge role with the Twins this season. I included Bonser, however. Here is how the pitchers stack up:
Slowey: 1.042 WHIP
Baker: 1.184 WHIP
Blackburn: 1.284 WHIP
Perkins: 1.479 WHIP
Boof: 1.500 WHIP
Hernandez: 1.590 WHIP
Not surprisingly, Slowey and Baker are at the top of this list. They have outstanding control, especially Slowey. Blackburn and Perkins are both in the middle, and that also makes sense. Bonser and Hernandez round out the bottom. I expected Bonser to be there, but how does Hernandez have nine wins on the season?
I also enjoy looking at a pitcher's ERA+. This is coming from Baseball-Reference.com's glossary:
"The ratio of the league's ERA (adjusted to the pitcher's ballpark) to that of the pitcher. > 100 is above average and < 100 is below average."
Here are the numbers when plugging in the Twins' pitchers:
Baker: 118—above average
Blackburn: 105—slightly above average
Slowey: 104—slightly above average
Perkins: 92—slightly below average
Hernandez: 76—Below average
Boof: 63—Way below average
Once again, Baker, Blackburn, and Slowey are the leaders of the group. Blackburn passed Slowey with his strong start yesterday, but another solid start from Slowey and he's right back at No. 2. Perkins is just a tad under average, which is what we expected of him. Bonser is way below average, which also isn't too huge of a surprise.
The fact that Livan Hernandez is the second-worst pitcher of these six is what is concerning. Hernandez has had five "above-average" years in his 11-year career. His best, in 2003 with the Expos, was 141. Very impressive. Even just last year Hernandez had an ERA+ of 95, just slightly below average.
What happened to the solid veteran the Minnesota Twins thought they signed?
Hernandez is having a pretty terrible year. His winning record is only where it is because of fantastic run support. This pitcher provides a great veteran presence amongst the younger pitchers, and it is not going unnoticed. However, is it worth these awful starts he is providing them with?
The bottom line is this: Hernandez is no ace.
The people who thought he was going to take over the No. 1 role in this rotation after the departure of Santana were dead wrong. Hernandez is proving mentorship to the young players on this team, but is pitching awfully.
Would it be worth it to trade Hernandez for another young pitcher like Edwin Jackson of the Rays? Although it is considered unlikely that Hernandez will be traded, do you think it should happen?