Who the H is David Herndon?

Posted by Corey Seidman, Mon, March 22, 2010 11:23 PM | Comments: 36

There is no such thing as having too many groundball pitchers.

Not for a team playing 81 regular season games at Citizens Bank Park, a place that led the National League in 2009 with 2.56 homers per contest. Over 10% of the big flies served up at the Bank last season would NOT have left 25 other major league parks, including five that wouldn’t have been home runs in any other city.

Common sense dictates that a successful way to combat the unfriendly elements of a bandbox would be to compile a group of groundball pitchers, because, well, it’s hard for a ball to leave the yard on the ground.

Enter David Herndon: a 6’5, 230 lb. righthanded pitcher from Panama City, Florida. Before the Phillies selected Herndon with the 17th and final pick of the Major League portion of December’s Rule Five draft, the 2006 fifth round choice had spent the last four seasons touring the various levels of the Angels’ farm system.

Herndon worked as a starter during his first two assignments in Low-A, but struggles at High-A Rancho Cucamonga resulted in a common change for a 22 year-old pitcher — a shift from starter to reliever. Herndon responded by posting 17 saves, enough to warrant a promotion to Double-A Arkansas.

Pitching a full season out of the bullpen in 2009, Herndon compiled a 3.03 ERA in 65 1/3 innings. As he had done throughout the entirety of his minor league career, Herndon exhibited tremendous command, walking only fourteen batters total — or, in reliever terms, about one per five innings. In four minor league seasons at four different levels, Herndon has walked 60 batters in 387 innings pitched — a 1.4 BB/9 rate. For contextual purposes (not comparing the majors to the minors) Chad Durbin walked 47 batters in 69 innings last year.

Herndon is not overpowering and strikeouts have never been part of his repertoire – he whiffs about five batters per nine innings. The avoidance of walks and home runs, however, as well as the ability to produce grounders, has helped him avoid danger. Granted, his ’09 home run rate (9 allowed in 65 innings) represents an unimpressive total, but for his career, he’s served up only one longball per eleven innings. This would be equivalent to roughly five homers allowed during a typical relief season.

His locker bordering only the exit of the team clubhouse, Herndon appeared a longshot to make the Phillies 25-man roster five weeks ago. But an impressive Spring (eight scoreless innings,) combined with lingering injuries to key relievers (Brad Lidge and JC Romero,) have changed things quite a bit.

As it stands now, Herndon will likely make the team as the twelfth and final pitcher. Assuming Jamie Moyer wins the “competition” for the fifth starter’s job, the Phillies opening day staff will look as follows:

Rotation: Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ, Moyer.

Bullpen: Ryan Madson, Danys Baez, Chad Durbin, Jose Contreras, Kyle Kendrick, Antonio Bastardo, Herndon.

If Lidge is able to come off the Disabled List in early April it is quite possible that all of Herndon’s success will be for naught; barring time on the DL, Herndon’s Rule Five status requires that he remain on the Phillies 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the Angels. Herndon could very well be the 2010 version of Tim Lahey.

If he keeps pitching well, though, the sinkerballing Herndon will be a tough pitcher to give up on. In two scoreless innings during Monday’s 9-7 win over the Yankees, he gave the Phils six stabilizing outs in relief of “last year’s Cole Hamels.” Herndon cruised through the fifth, throwing only five pitches, and dispatched of Nick Swisher with two men on to end the sixth.

The key stat? Four of his six outs were of the groundball variety.

“I’m trying not to think about stuff that is out of my hands,” Herndon responded after the game, when asked about his uncertain future with the Phils. “Pitch, get outs, let it all take care of itself.”

Up to this point, he has done everything possible to make the decision easier (or harder, depending on how you look at it) for Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee, two men who know that a team can never have enough groundball pitchers. As stated in yesterday’s piece, they knew it when they welcomed Danys Baez, and both now recognize it with Herndon. Success on the ground is hard to ignore.

David Herndon is proving it more and more each day.

Avatar of Corey Seidman

About Corey Seidman

Corey Seidman has written 210 articles on Phillies Nation.

Corey is Analysis Editor for Phillies Nation and also writes for CSNPhilly.com.

  • Posts: 0 Tyler

    So if Herndon is on the opening day roster and is pitching well what do you do when Romero and Lidge come back? Contereras and Baez are pitching well. Kendrick most likely earned a bullpen spot at the very least. There just doesn’t seem to be room for him.

  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    All depends on when Romero is ready. When Lidge returns its either bye bye to Herndon or Antonio Bastardo.

    Always possibility of another injury surfacing. Or maybe Juan Castro looks awful and the Phils decide to go with only 4 extra hitters instead of five, opening up a spot for one more pitcher.

  • Posts: 0 BurrGundy

    excellent article. I hope Herndo is the real deal, and being a sinkerballer with good control is a plus.

  • Posts: 0 jacob

    This kid looks like he has the stuff to be a very effective middle reliever. Good sinker that should only get better working up with major league instruction and experience. He’s earned a spot on the roster to open the season with the spring he’s had and with the need in the bullpen.

    Lidge and Romero resuming active duty and if the rest of the bullpen performs/remains healthy doesn’t necessarily spell the end of his career as a Phil. In that scenario the Phils could trade for him with the Angels. If he has continued success once the regular season starts I would think it would be in the best interests of the team.

  • Posts: 0 WFC010

    Doesn’t Bastardo have Minor League options left? If he starts off the regular season struggling, they can just send him down to the Minors again, and that should hopefully clear up enough room to keep Herndon on the roster.

  • Posts: 0 Scotch Man

    The stupidity of the Rule 5 draft lives on. I think Herndon has earned a spot on the club where others have not.

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    I really like the rule 5, so often you see guys buried in a system you’ve never heard of a chance to catch on with another team and unlike the amateur draft there’s a rule in place to stop it’s abuse (for the most part).

    This is a very good problem for the Phils to have, it really wasn’t that long ago the Phils were scraping around to just fill the bullpen behind Tom Gordon and now there’s so many options and you wonder who’s expendable when Lidge and Romero are ready. With Herndon the Phils have at the very least bought themselves some time with an early season rental.

  • Posts: 0 paul garrett

    Thanks to Kyle Kendrick for taking time to sign for all of us yesterday after the game.

  • Posts: 0 Ashton

    I am all about giving this dude a shot, he’s clearly doing well at the moment. It just sucks for him because they are forking out 11 Mil for Lidge and 4 Mil for Romero so no matter what they are going to get what they paid for. It will just be a shame if they send him back to L.A. of A for 25,000 if im not mistaken.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Ok. Let’s just RELAX on the “11 Mil for Lidge and 4 Mil for Romero” talk.

    Once both of those guys are back and getting batters out….the salaries that they make won’t even be mentioned by most of you.

    And, also, while this guy Herndon looks really good….let’s not annoint him the “second coming of Jesus” just yet. Yeah, he’s been impressive this spring. But the pressure of the regular season hasn’t even started yet. I mean, the dude has ZERO major league experience to date.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    Definitely keep the guy. I’m thinking that Romero will take at least all of April to get to 100%. By then, one of the relief pitchers or bench players might look like crap, so they might send that guy down and leave Herndon in the 25-man roster. Or maybe Herndon is the one that looks like crap and he’ll be the one to go…

    In any scenario, you can’t say NO to a guy who has pitched “perfectly” (no runs allowed for goodness sake) so far. Groundball middle-relief pitcher with something to prove, yes please.

    Foundner of the Keep Herndon in Red Pinstripes Movement

  • Posts: 0 Pat Gallen

    I would say proceed with caution. We’re always told not to take much stock in spring games, so we’ll know the real David Herndon when the season begins.

    Not saying he can’t be very good, but he hasnt had a ton of success in the minors up to this point, so it’s a work in progress. He has looked brilliant though.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    By the way, we’re totally jinxing the guy… next time he goes to the mound, gives up a couple of runs, and he’s gone with the wind…

  • Posts: 0 bfo_33

    The contracts of Lidge and Romero are irrelevant. It is already spent, and Ruben and Co get it that if someone gets outperformed, they will lose their spot (see Eaton and Jenkins), regardless of how much they are owed. Lidge had a terrible year in 09, but no one stepped it up to take over the closer job (if Madsen performed well in that role, no doubt in my mind that Lidge would have moved to set up).

    His spring will get Herndon a shot on the roster. Not saying he’s going to take over for Lidge, but if he performs well in April, he’ll stay on in some role. When Lidge and Romero come back, hopefully it will be a very tough decision on who to let lose (due to a bunch of strong performers).

  • Posts: 0 christopher

    cut contreras!

  • Posts: 0 Heather

    BFO, I agree with you; see: “sunk cost fallacy”. However, falling into that trap is very easy, and the Phillies have not shown they are immune to it.

  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    Brad Lidge and JC Romero both have spots on the team and aren’t going anywhere. Just because they won’t likely be healthy enough to begin the season doesn’t make either a “sunk cost.”

    The point is that David Herndon has pitched himself into a spot. Any Lidge or Romero bashing is unfounded at this point. Lidge’s 2008 and 2009 canceled out and Romero should be let off the hook for nagging injuries. After all, Romero WAS, quantifiably, the best situational lefty reliever in all of major league baseball from the day he signed with the Phillies until the end of 2008.

  • Posts: 0 bfo_33

    I’m not bashing Lidge or Romero. Both were key parts of the WFCs, and I hope to see them back to form this year. I’m also willing to give both some space – need not be at 2008 form their first inning back. My only point is that over the past three years, the Phils have demonstrated that they value perfomance over trying to recover a sunk cost. Herndon’s spring indicates he deserves a shot. If he makes the most of it, the Phils will make room for him, regardless of contracts.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Thank you Corey Seidman!!

    I said earlier in the thread, “Let’s just RELAX on the $11Mil for Lidge and $4Mil for Romero” talk.

    I guarantee you that all you fair-weather, bandwagon-jumpers will be lavishing praise on both Lidge and Romero once they are back and contributing towards winning ballgames for the Phillies.

    Same thing with Contreras. christopher says, “cut contreras.”

    Ok…..and that’s a response to David Herndon, who has ZERO major league experience, having a good Spring Training??

    I’m all for giving this guy his shot….and seeing how he’ll do in PRESSURE situations…..something that Lidge, Romero and Contreras all have experience with.

    Hey, maybe this guy is the real deal…and will be here all season….and help the Phillies win lots of games. And maybe he’s just having a good run in Clearwater.

    As Pat Gallen said earlier….”proceed with caution.”

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    I’ll take my chances with Baez, Lidge, Romero, Durbin and/or Bastardo before I bet the farm on Herndon. You can’t judge anything by spring training… he has done enough to get a look-see in April and maybe we’ll know more about the fifth starter by then and maybe a spot will open up (truth be told, if Jamie can’t be effective, I would not be surprised if they released him outright). Romero and Lidge need to take it slow… one day at a time. As long as Hondo (aka Herndon) is pitching well, there is no need to rush anything.

    So… 12 pitchers (Rotation: Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ, Moyer… Bullpen: Ryan Madson, Danys Baez, Chad Durbin, Jose Contreras, Kyle Kendrick, Antonio Bastardo, Herndon)

    Leaves 8 every day position players: Howard, Utley, Rollins, Polanco, Ruiz, Werth, Victorino, Ibanez

    5 bench: Gload, Francisco, Schneider, Castro and one of Dobbs or Mayberry.

    I like Mayberry but I’m not sure if he has done enough to leapfrog Dobbs… not that Dobbs has done anything great but it’s the whole, “Dance with the girl that brung ya” argument. Dobbs’ only real position is third base… Mayberry can play just about any position in the outfield.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    I would go with Dobbs over Mayberry to start…simply for what you just stated, “Dance with the girl that brung ya”

    Dobbs was hurt last year…this year he’s healthy. I would imagine that he will be more like the Dobbs of 2008 as opposed to what he was like last year.

    I really like the bench. What an upgrade over last year!!

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    The siutation where Lidge comes back is what the DL was invented for

    you can’t send Bastardo down until Romero is back, and healthy..

    And if you send Herndon down, you would lose him

    so you would probably place Baez, or Contresas, or Moyer, on the 15-day DL with “a sore something” … and then you sort it out later, when it becomes more clear as to the health of Lidge and Romero

    Also, its not like Herndon is some random dude from their farm system that is having a good spring . . . . they scouted him, and grabbed him in the RULE V …so they’ve known that this kid has good enough stuff to take the chance on bringing him into the organization

    I would imagine that Herndon makes the roster.. and when someone needs to go on the DL . . . it might be Contreras, who can continue to throw bullpens, build arm strength, and then get a few minor league rehab games to stay fresh …

    I know that MLB has been trying to police this situation, but in the early parts of the season, they’ll have a hard time proving anything against the Phillies

  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    If Herndon does well in April the Phils will make a deal for him as insurance. Gotta love the 2.28 GO/AO espit the # of dingers last year. He would go back to the angels immediately after not making the 25 man roster, right?

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Dobbs has shown that he can be an effective pinch-hitter…. Mayberry has shown that he can hit a fastball a long way, from time to time

    Dobbs is the better player, and I can’t see them taking Mayberry over him for anything.. except maybe a basketball game

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    They would have to offer him back to the Angels (not sure if he would need to make their roster?? or if he could play in the minors for them again)

    but its like a $50,000 risk to take a player RULE V . . . . you don’t take the players unless you like what you’ve seen from them to that point..

    and with the Phillies looking to have younger arms around.. I think they would love to have some effective $400,000 guys in the bullpen.. instead of a bunch of $3-4 Million guys

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Herndon may not be some “random dude”….BUT….he has no major league experience.

    And plently of people on here are ready to get rid of “this guy” or “that guy”……and insert David Herndon …and ASSUME he’s gonna have the same success in REAL games as he’s having in S.T.

    Maybe he will be a successful major-league pitcher and I’m sure that the Phillies saw something in him….or he wouldn’t be here right now.

    I just think that to automatically annoint him the next _______(insert your own famous effective relief pitcher) is premature at this point.

    This is a VERY good problem (if you want to call it that) for the Phillies to have. Hopefully, ALL these guys do well and make it even harder for Charlie and Ruben.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    Placing whoever’s struggling or slightly injured (Contreras, Moyer seem like a good bet) on the DL would be wise to give Herndon a shot in April. If he succeeds, then they gotta work something out and keep the guy. As Don said, it’s not a random dude from the Angels’ farm system… Phillies actually chose him.

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    I like the fact that Mayberry is not a stiff in the field… they both strike out, a lot but Mayberry is right handed and he’s a better slugger (in terms of slugging percentage… .800 OPS in the minors, .474 slugging pct in limited major league experience). Gload is left handed… Ben Fran is right handed… Castro is right handed… maybe we don’t need a third right handed bench bat but I would prefer it that way, I think.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Yeah and that’s great….do whatever it takes to give the guy a legitimate shot. He COULD be the next Shane Victorino. I’m all for it.

    But someone said earlier, “Cut Contreras”. And others are bitching about Romero’s and Lidge’s salaries….as though the salaries have ANYTHING to do with their performances or their status on the DL.

    It’s as if this guy Herndon comes along and shines and now people say “Well, Lidge makes $11Mil and is hurt…or Contreras sucks because his spring hasn’t been that great…or Moyer is old…..oh, but we’ve got Herndon now so let’s just let get rid of one of these guys…we can do that.”

    As I said, this is a good problem to have.

  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    OT: He who shall not be named still can’t throw of the mound because of a strained abdoman muscle. 5 2/3 innings this Spring. He won’t be ready for opening day so the 5 game suspension really doesn’t hurt.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Yeah, and we have ROY HALLADAY!!

  • Posts: 0 Dan S

    i thought this site was against people calling citizen’s bank park a band box? guess you changed your mind?

  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    Who made a declaration against calling Citizens Bank Park a bandbox? It is and always has been. Yes, the Phillies are a powerful team that can hit homers anywhere, but that doesn’t change the fact that CBP is in the top-5 every year and commonly features cheap home runs from Phillies and opponents alike.

  • Posts: 0 Justin

    Ha, went to write a post with a similar title. Glad I googled him first.

  • Posts: 0 Hillary H.

    I went to High School with David Herndon and we are still friends and I think he deserves everything coming his way, especially when you come from spring break town. I am on his side always. Nay sayers: try to look at a great pitchers potential.

  • Posts: 0 Josh P.

    Try catching that sinker! I played t-ball through jr. majors with David Herndon. We were best friends and teammates all the way through High School. Hell of a guy and and a hell of a pitcher. Give him time, he’s worthy of it.

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