Sunday, April 8, 2012

When Will the Philadelphia Phillies Give Up On David Herndon?

The Philadelphia Phillies loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday—the team’s second in a row—does not mean it’s time for fans to panic. It’s one series very early in the season.

That doesn’t mean that players cannot be evaluated, especially those with a history with the team.

That being said, when does the David Herndon experiment end?

The 6-foot-5-inch right-handed relief pitcher came on in the ninth inning of a 4-4 game, gave up two hits and the game-winning run, earning the loss. It was his eighth loss with the Phillies since he made his debut in 2010.

Herndon was originally acquired by the Phillies as a Rule 5 Draft pick in 2009, like how they acquired Shane Victorino. In order for the Phillies to keep Herndon’s rights they needed to keep him on the 25-man roster for the entire season. So if the team wanted to give Herndon time to develop and a chance to be an invaluable member of the bullpen they needed to live with some of his growing pains.

He’s had two years plus one game now. The majority of the time Herndon has disappointed.

He is 2-8 overall with an ERA of 3.85. Opponents are hitting .292 against him. Coming into this season, lefties hit an exceptionally high .343 with a slugging-percentage of .594 against him and righties were hitting a respectable .262.

As stated above, he has eight losses for the Phillies. His four losses last season were tied for sixth-most on the team. As for relievers though only Kyle Kendrick—who started 15 games out of 34 total—had more losses than Herndon; Danys Baez had as many as Herndon. Even Vance Worley, who made 21 starts, lost fewer games than Herndon.

Herndon’s redeeming “skill” is his ability to get ground balls. Herndon’s go-to-pitch is a sinking fastball, followed by a slider and change-up combination. Getting ground balls is especially important for Phillies pitchers because Citizens Bank Park is known to be a hitter’s park.

The problem is that Herndon still gives up the long ball in abundance. Last season Herndon gave up nine home runs, the most by any relief pitcher (excluding Kendrick).
Herndon has difficulty getting players out, gets hit very hard and does not come up big when the team needs him.

It makes no sense for him to keep a roster spot if all he is “good” for is mop-up duty in blowouts.

More times than not when Herndon comes in he hurts the team. The question is how much longer will Phillies management allow him to do so?

Photo Credits.
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

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