In a sport where it can suddenly go so wrong, any time could be a premature one to proclaim things have turned around.
But for the time being, Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Daniel Hudson’s two-month-long nightmare appears to be over.
The D-backs fell to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday as the bats mustered just two hits in a 3-1 loss at Chase Field. A bright spot was Hudson, who pitched a sound ninth inning.
Arizona has shifted to its veteran relievers late in games, giving young arms Enrique Burgos and Jake Barrett a breather.
“Randall (Delgado), Huddy, they’re getting it, they’re starting to get it going,” Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said a night prior. “What’s going to happen now is we’re going to have to move them to the back (of the rotation) and really kind of watch Burgos and Barrett and give them some innings where they feel a little bit better about themselves, where there’s less pressure maybe.”
On Tuesday, Barrett recorded a blown save in the eighth inning by allowing three runs (two earned). The next day, Burgos allowed four earned runs in the ninth inning.
Things had similarly went wrong for Hudson back in late June, so much so that it hindered his trade value.
He allowed eight earned runs in his final four appearances of June (1.2-plus innings) and would allow 15 more in seven innings pitched over the course of July. Hudson even deleted his Twitter account to shut out the negative noise.
This, all after he started the year as one of the best setup relievers in baseball with a 1.31 ERA through April and May.
Hudson just might be back to that type of effectiveness.
On Thursday, his one-strikeout performance became his 11th-straight appearance without allowing an earned run. He’s only allowed four hits over that span of eight innings while striking out seven and walking two batters.
“Older veteran guys are going to get more opportunities, which will be good because we have to find out for next year,” Hale said on Wednesday. “Daniel will be a free agent and Randall … he’s arbitration eligible. We need to find what our bullpen is going to look like in ’17 and who we can depend on.”
Hudson now has the opportunity to build his free agency stock as a closer after acting as a setup man to Brad Ziegler, who was dealt to the Red Sox before the trade deadline.
Indeed, there’s always a chance the season could go south on Hudson once again. That’s just baseball.
But for now, it appears he is back on track.