Will David Herndon be a Bullpen Mainstay?

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, October 21, 2011 10:09 AM | Comments: 10
Analysis, News, Opinion, Posts

When it comes to the bullpen, all anyone will talk about is Ryan Madson. Rightfully so, he could be on his way out after an incredible eight-year run with the Phillies. If Madson leaves, it’ll be up to the youngsters in the Phillies bullpen to make up the difference. Sure, Ruben Amaro may bring someone else in, but this youth movement for the relief corps will eventually take center stage whether or not Madson is around to be a part of it.

Bastardo, Stutes, Schwimer, De Fratus, and Savery could all play a role next year. One guy that’s always overlooked is David Herndon.

Even with a strong finish to the season, Herndon always seems to go unnoticed. Over his final 20 appearances, Herndon gave up just four earned runs in 25 1/3 innings (1.42 ERA), even though a few of those games were still a little bit shaky. The 2011 season was a step in the right direction for a guy who barely stood a chance with this fanbase a year ago.

In 2010, Herndon’s struggled with his confidence and it was downhill from there. That season, Herndon could not piece together a solid string of games until it was too late. He had a decent September of 2010, but the damage had been done well before that. Every time he pitched, people cringed at the thought. It was almost a guarantee he’d put someone on base by any means necessary, as evident by his 1.60 WHIP. Herndon allowed 86 baserunners in 52 1/3 innings.

That number dropped to 76 in 57 innings, however, he also walked seven batters intentionally, so that number is really 69. Still not fantastic, but certainly a starting point for what was a better season for Herndon.

Herndon also minimized the damage he inflicted upon himself. In 2010, he allowed extra-bases on over nine percent of hits. On top of that, nearly 20 percent of his at-bats ended up in singles. People were just always on the bases.

In 2011, his home run percentage skyrocketed from under one percent to 3.7. However, he allowed far fewer extra-base hits compared to the season before. That number fell from nine percent in 2010 to six percent in 2011. His singles rate dropped to just over 15 percent.

One of the reasons the Phillies took a flier on Herndon in the Rule 5 Draft before the ’10 season was because of a heavy sinker that would be an asset. It’s still a work in progress, as he has yet to find true consistency on it. Still, he’s mixing his pitches better as you can see by the charts below. His K-rate rose from 5.0/9 in ’10 to 6.2/9 this past year. His ERA+ (read here for more on it) went from below average at 95 in 2010, to 117 in 2011.

Over the final two months of the season, Herndon was superior to Mike Stutes, who was the darling of the bullpen for quite a while.

Of course, Herndon’s season wasn’t without the occasional hiccup, and that includes his solid second half. He had three rough outings in September, but a few were under odd circumstances. On September 3 against Florida, he gave up back-to-back-to-back home runs, all solo, in one inning of work. On a hot day in Miami, the ball jumped out. He stunk. The very next day, Herndon pitched 3 2/3 innings of relief and walked seven, although four of those were intentional. After leaving eight men on the bases over three of those innings, he could not escape a jam in the final inning and picked up the loss. But, he ate up innings, which is not to be overlooked.

Herndon certainly took strides to becoming a better pitcher, and he’ll get every opportunity in 2012 as well. He just has to continue to refine his sinker, minimize the damage with men on base, and keep from being hurt by the longball. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that Herndon could be a valuable asset next season and play a bigger role. He’ll have to, as the youth movement is one the Phillies cannot look back on; not with a bloated payroll that will likely deter them from adding high-priced bullpen arms.





(pitch f/x data from TexasLeaguer.com)

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About Pat Gallen

Pat Gallen has written 1684 articles on Phillies Nation.

Pat is Editor-in-Chief of Phillies Nation. He also covers the Phils for 97.5 FM in Philly.

  • Posts: 0 BART SHART

    Herndon does have a fine sinker ball. He should improve in 2012, especially in the second half of the year. I say stick with him. He very well could develop into an outstanding relief pitcher.

  • Posts: 0 Frank Riccard

    I’m not sure how I feel about Herndon.

    I mean, there are games when the guy just looks like an ace out there, and he looks like a valuable young asset. Others, where he just gets destroyed, and the sound of his name makes me cringe.

    If confidence is the issue, I say have him hang out w/ the Vanimal. That guy just oozes confidence. Cockiness even.

  • Posts: 0 Sandy Durso

    Herndon is what Herndon is ….I agree he pitched fairly well this year but he is nothing special when it comes to comparison to other major league relievers ….he is not talked about much because he is average. Some of the younger guys like Stutes have a large upside in potential. Madson is currently playing at an extremely high level . Herndon is one of those guys who you are never too confident in. He may do well or he might got knocked around. Consistency is what makes a pitcher more valuable and Herndon has yet to be consistent in my opinion.

  • Posts: 1435 Pat Gallen

    Avatar of Pat Gallen

    It’s tough to throw guys away that show promise and seem to be close to “getting it”. If the Blue Jays had given up on Halladay… you get the idea.

    I think the kid is close. He really does have to be more consistent with the sinker, but I think youre starting to see the evolution there.

  • Posts: 0 George

    The biggest problem with Herndon is that he allows too many inherited runners to score. I don’t see him as a “mainstay,” but that could change if he continues to improve. I think he could end up being a “throw-in” in a trade, though, because the Phils have a lot of arms to choose from, like Aumont, Savery, DeFratus, and Shwimer. Stutes and Bastardo, have already made their marks. Kendrick and Contreras are still on the roster, and a closer will be signed, either Madson or someone else. That’s more than enough to fill a bullpen.

  • Posts: 0 George

    Of course, not all of these guys will make it at the same time, and there will no doubt be some injuries. The team will probably want a couple of veteran arms to help out.

    One could argue that Herndon does have more experience than someone like Savery. But given Herndon’s inconsistencies and the fact that everyone seems to agree he still needs to improve pretty much renders that extra MLB time as meaningless. I’m not trying to run down Herndon but–at least for now–there may be better options.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    best things about Herndon are the ability to get ground-balls… and throw more than one innings … guys like that are very useful over a long season.

    as the last, or second to last pitcher in the pen … I think Herndon has been pretty good, and should contintue to improve

  • Posts: 38 landshark

    Avatar of landshark

    Herndon is our bullpen version of Kyle Kendrick when Kyle was up and coming. It doesn’t hurt to keep him around. Even though I watch this kid, and feel everytime he takes the mound he’s going to get pounded, sometimes he can look sharp out there. But however thats maybe 2 out of 10 times, so Im in the middle with him

  • Posts: 2069 Brooks

    Avatar of Brooks

    Choke! You have to be kidding – Herndon’s & Baez go together like a soup and sandwhich – cold soup, stale sandwhich – over with, done – out of here!

  • Posts: 0 davehist

    I was pleasantly surprised by Herndon more often than not this season. So I think we keep him around and watch him get better in 2012.

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