For pretty much the last two seasons, few were worried about the Arizona Diamondbacks’ closer role.
Because even if the reliable J.J. Putz got hurt or faltered, setup man David Hernandez was ready to step right in and lock down games.
Acquired from the Baltimore Orioles prior to the 2011 season, Hernandez posted a 7-6 record with a 2.94 ERA with 15 saves in his first two years with the D-backs. He struck out 175 in 137.2 innings of work, and looked very much like a closer of the future.
Then 2013 happened.
Hernandez’s promising future has turned disastrous, as the 28-year-old has gone 4-6 with a 5.32 ERA. He’s allowed 10 home runs, which is more than the previous two seasons combined.
He’s been scored on in eight of his last 14 appearances, and been generally awful since the calendar turned to June.
“He’s been much better at home than he has been on the road,” D-backs general manager Kevin Towers told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf Wednesday. “Of late he’s even struggled a little bit at home, but if you look at his home and away splits, he’s much better at home.”
Hernandez is 2-2 with a 3.97 ERA in 22.2 innings at Chase Field this season, whereas he’s 2-4 with a 6.57 ERA in 24.2 innings on the road.
Towers attributed Hernandez’s improved play at home to the support he receives from fans, adding that confidence is an important part of being a reliever.
“When you’re feeling good and you feel confidence throwing that fastball where you want,” he said, “with David it’s just, the velocity is still there it’s just bad location.”
The GM believes his reliever is in a rut right now, where even his good pitches get hit hard. Comparing him to Heath Bell, who has also struggled at times this season, Towers said he believes Hernandez’s breaking ball has been less effective this year than in years past.
“It’s been a rough year for him,” he said. “He knows it.
“It’s tough and the confidence isn’t there; our job is to just try to put him in areas to where he can hopefully start to slowly regain that confidence before we start putting him in meaningful innings late in the game.”