The Arizona Diamondbacks’ bullpen has been unpredictable for most of the season, but some help may be on the way.
Manager Chip Hale said Friday before a matchup with the New York Mets that relief pitcher David Hernandez is nearing a return to the big league club.
“Well, he’s gone back-to-back twice now [in Double-A Mobile], so he’s ready to go,” the skipper said. “We’ll probably activate him if not this weekend, when we go on the road [to Los Angeles and then San Francisco]. He’s ready to go.”
Hernandez, 30, hasn’t pitched in the majors since the 2013 season. He underwent season-ending reconstructive elbow surgery just prior to the 2014 campaign, and has had a long road to get to where he is now.
Hale said the only thing keeping Hernandez from returning to the D-backs immediately is the team wants to give him at least three full days of rest after his latest minor league outing.
“We’ve had him do everything so he can pitch important innings for us, so he should be ready,” the first-year manager said. “He’s a pro. He’s been doing this a long time, so I’m sure when he gets out there on the mound, the adrenaline will take over.”
Hernandez has five years of experience in the big leagues between the Diamondbacks and Baltimore Orioles. He has a career record of 24-30 and a lifetime ERA of 4.41 with 381 strikeouts in 380.2 innings. The right-hander started 27 games in his first two years in the MLB, but has since finished 77 games, tallying 19 saves.
His best year was 2012 with the D-backs, in which he made 72 appearances and had a 2.50 ERA and 2-3 record with a whopping 98 strikeouts in 68.1 innings pitched.
Two other players who have had success in the big leagues should be returning to the D-backs in the near future, according to Hale.
Third baseman Jake Lamb began a rehab assignment this week in Triple-A Reno. He was batting a team-high .414 with nine RBI with the D-backs before suffering a left foot injury on April 18.
“Jake DH’d (Thursday) night, and he’ll play nine (innings on Friday) in the field,” Hale said. “So he’s probably playing seven or nine (Friday) and seven or nine (Saturday), and (we’ll) see where we are after that.”
Lamb, 24, had three hits in eight at-bats with one double in one RBI through his first two games in Reno.
And perhaps the biggest name that might come back to the Diamondbacks soon is starting left-hander Patrick Corbin. The D-backs ace during the 2013 season, Corbin hasn’t made a big league appearance since that year after suffering a partial tear in the ulnar collateral ligament of his elbow during spring training in 2014.
“He’s going to go pitch in [Class-A Advanced] Visalia,” the D-backs manager said.
Corbin, 25, logged team highs of 14 wins (contrasted with eight losses) and 208.1 innings pitched in 2013, and his 3.41 ERA was the lowest of any D-backs starter that season.
Hale said the organization is looking at Monday for the lefty’s first start down in the minors this year.
“I think we’ll evaluate him after every (start), and increase his innings to what we need,” Hale said, adding that Corbin’s initial targeted pitch count will be “right around 60.”