Los Angeles Dodgers acquire Roberto Hernandez

The Los Angeles Dodgers made a move to shore up the back end of their rotation on Thursday, acquiring Philadelphia Phillies RHP Roberto Hernandez for either two PTBNL or cash considerations.

I really don’t even know where to go with this.

Back when Roberto Hernandez was Fausto Carmona

Back when Roberto Hernandez was Fausto Carmona

On the surface, this looks like a decent move for the Dodgers. Hernandez, or the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona, hasn’t been bad this season. He is 6-8 on a bad Phillies team and holds an solid 3.87 ERA, pitching primarily in a hitters ballpark.

Digging into some advanced statistics, Hernandez isn’t as good as his numbers indicate. His BABIP is .256, which means he’s been lucky with balls hit in play. His k/9 is 5.58, and his BB/9 is 4.09, both of which fall in between “below average” and “poor” according to fangraphs.com

Hernandez hasn’t been a good pitcher for a while. He was an All-Star in 2010 and finished fourth in Cy Young voting in 2007, but at 33 years old he is a shell of the pitcher he once was. And outside of those two seasons, the pitcher he once was was still mediocre.

Hernandez figures to either take over a back-end starting spot or provide some long relief out of the bullpen. Here are his numbers compared to the Dodgers’ fourth and fifth starters, Josh Beckett and Dan Haren. (via thebaseballcube.com)

Screenshot 2014-08-07 12.20.15

Hernandez’s contract is expiring and the Dodgers will be giving up very little to get him, so it’s hard to complain about this trade. But I’ll give it a try. The timing of this trade is very strange. Many fans, including myself, figured the Dodgers would shake something up to get Haren out of the rotation. Haren started the year strong, but had been awful of late. In his last five starts, Haren gave up 26 earned runs in 23.1 innings, and unsurprisingly was 0-5 in that stretch.

Then came Wednesday night’s start, where Haren did what neither Zack Greinke or Clayton Kershaw could do the two nights before. Haren absolutely shut down the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, allowing three hits and one run in 7.1 innings. He didn’t allow his first hit until he was in the sixth inning, and he kept Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton hitless. I was watching this game on the Angels broadcast (cough Time Warner Cable) and just laughed every time Haren got someone out. Haren is less than 50 innings away from kicking in a vesting option that pays him $10 million next year, so many thought that Haren was pitching for his job last night. If Haren can pitch close to how he pitched against the Angels, $10 million will seem like a steal next year.

Then there’s Beckett, who was the biggest surprise of the first half for the Dodgers. Beckett was a popular pick for Comeback Player of the Year, but has been awful since the all star break. Beckett has been pitching with a torn labrum in his hip, but a 6.50 ERA in July is not what the Dodgers are looking for out of their fourth starter.

Beckett was lined up to start Friday, so it looks like Hernandez will be taking that spot for now. I’d be surprised if Beckett isn’t placed on the DL in the coming days. If and when Beckett return and is healthy, either Haren or Hernandez should move into the long relief role that was held by Paul Maholm, who tore his ACL last week.

This isn’t a move that’ll catapult the Dodgers over the top or make a huge difference come October. But it’s a low risk, medium reward type of move that provides pitching depth. Still, I would be shocked if this was the final move involving the Dodgers pitching staff.


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