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  • Homer-Happy Hendriks

    It is easy to despair over Liam Hendriks after starts like the one he turned in on Monday night against the Yankees, when he coughed up four homers en route to his eighth loss in 15 tries for the Twins this year.

    Certainly the right-hander has offered little cause for encouragement here in his first extended exposure to the majors, but we shouldn't let these rocky outings completely sour us on his long-term outlook.

    Earlier this month, Aaron Gleeman drew a comparison on his blog between Hendriks and former Twin Brad Radke. When Radke first stepped onto the scene back in 1995, his performance was similar to what we've seen from Hendriks thus far. He gave up tons of hits, tons of homers and looked generally hopeless. Of course, Radke went on to have a pretty decent career.

    I was struck by another more recent example of a player who, like Hendriks, put up ridiculous numbers in the minors despite an underwhelming arsenal and got knocked around in his first taste of the majors. That would be Kevin Slowey.

    Compare the numbers from Slowey's rookie season in 2007 to the ones Hendriks has produced this year:

    Player IP ERA K BB Opp OPS HR
    Slowey 66.2 4.73 47 11 .850 16
    Hendriks 78.1 6.09 47 24 .914 17

    Granted, Hendriks' production looks pretty bad even in comparison to Slowey's uninspiring debut. But the two shared the same principal problem a proneness to having their mediocre offerings deposited in the bleachers. Slowey was even more vulnerable to homers than Hendriks, which is saying something given that the latter's HR rate would translate to 44 long balls allowed in a 200-inning season.

    Slowey's initial struggles in the big leagues gave him plenty to work on during the offseason, and he came back to put together a fine season as a 24-year-old in 2008, posting a 3.99 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 123-to-24 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. He cut his HR/9 rate from 2.2 to 1.2.

    Hendriks is 23 years old, the same age as Slowey was in '07. He similarly needs to make adjustments and find a way to make his stuff work against MLB hitters, the way it has against hitters at all levels in the minors.

    If he can bounce back next year with numbers anywhere close to the ones Slowey was able to produce in his sophomore season, it would be a huge boon for Minnesota's shaky rotation.
    This article was originally published in blog: Homer-Happy Hendriks started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 6 Comments
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      I think that there is domination and there is domination in the minors. Slowey had only one season with WHIP higher than 0.834 (and that was 0.958) And his highest full season ERA in the minor before that call up was 2.12. Slowey's worst seasons would be Hendriks' career seasons and Hendriks is pretty darn good.

      Small sample size to talk about HRs. ... A good comparable to Hendriks is Frankie Viola who made his debut (like Hendriks) at age 22 and had a full season at age 23. Both of those season were not remarkable and then Frankie got the changeup going and became Frankie. Hope that Hendriks follows that trajectory...
    1. peterb18's Avatar
      peterb18 -
      Without getting into the stat stuff--it maybe that Liam just doesn't have the ability to do well at the next level. He has had plenty of opportunity--something like 17 starts with one win. I just don't like the action of his ball---it comes in too flat. He reminds of a shortstop throwing the ball--kind of a slinger, or little bit of a short arm action. But, I hope I'm wrong on this opinion.
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      He will adjust. It takes some guys longer than others. Guys that aren't big power arms take longer IMO. I wouldn't expect Cy-Young results, but I think he'll settle around a 4 ERA.
    1. peterb18's Avatar
      peterb18 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Badsmerf View Post
      He will adjust. It takes some guys longer than others. Guys that aren't big power arms take longer IMO. I wouldn't expect Cy-Young results, but I think he'll settle around a 4 ERA.
      Really hope you are right on this one! A 4 era in the American league is pretty good. Wonder what the Twins feel internally on Hendricks future?
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      Not necessarily as comparable as Baker made 10 starts @ 23 but @ age 24
      16st 83.1IP 114h 6.37ERA 62k 16bb 17hr's
      15st 78.1IP 101h 6.09ERA 47k 24bb 17hr's
      If he turns out as good as Scot was (but injury free) Id be very happy but I am a fan of an injury free Baker
      Liam is frustrating right now, but I have tons of faith in him & would almost pencil him in for a spot next yr (esp if he has a similar spring training)
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      I do not like the movement on the ball from Hendriks. The Twins will probably give him a shot next year, but I do not think he is a major league pitcher
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