Friday afternoon, the pitching-rich Atlanta Braves ... well, here's what they're saying on the Internet:
#braves are signing livan— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) March 30, 2012
Yeah. The Atlanta Braves, who entered the off-season with what seemed too many starting pitchers, have reportedly signed, or are close to signing, 37-year-old Livan Hernandez, who washed out with the Houston Astros.
Just to review, last season the Braves won 89 games and the Astros lost 106. Also, the Astros have moved one of their best starting pitchers from last season to the bullpen this season. Yet still they couldn't find room in their rotation for Livan Hernandez.
While the Braves, it seems, can.
So how did this happen? The Braves came into spring training with four slots in their rotation essentially set: Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, Brandon Beachy, and Mike Minor. It would have been all five slots, but Tim Hudson's recovering from back surgery and is expected to miss the first month or so of the regular season.
Something funny happened on the way to the rotation, though: Delgado and Teheran have combined to give up 32 runs in 30 innings this spring. They've also walked a bunch of guys. Granted, Jurrjens has pitched just about as poorly as Delgado and Teheran. But he's got more experience, so he's getting the benefit of the doubt. Relatively speaking, anyway.
You can call it panic if you like, but there's really only so much damage that Livan Hernandez can do. Once Hudson's back in action, Hernandez will be the Braves' eight-best starting pitcher (at best), and one might assume that Nos. 6 and 7 will eventually get whatever chances they deserve.
In the meantime, we're lucky enough to see Livan Hernandez throw a few more of those big looping curveballs ...