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  • Liam Hendriks Has Run Out of Chances

    Liam Hendriks is still only 24 years old. He owns a career 2.99 ERA in the minor leagues. He was dominant against Triple-A hitters as recently as last year. In so many respects, it seems far too soon to consider giving up on the Australian righty.

    Yet, after watching his downright miserable performance in Chicago on Monday night, it's awfully difficult to come away with any conclusion other than this: The Twins need to move on.

    Hendriks' latest outing is the lowlight in what's been a tumultuous major-league career. He's had plenty of clunkers across the past three seasons, in which he is 2-13 with a 6.01 ERA, but Monday's dud truly takes the cake. Going against a White Sox club that was averaging a league-low 3.64 runs per game and had scored just seven times in its past six contests, Hendriks coughed up seven runs on five hits and three walks while recording only two outs.

    It has always been somewhat apparent from watching him that Hendriks doesn't really have the stuff to be an effective major-league pitcher, but his youth and his superb numbers throughout most of his minor-league career (not to mention a dearth of appealing alternative options in the high levels) have led many -- including myself -- to urge the right-hander be given more opportunities.

    And the Twins have given him those opportunities. They let him roll for 16 starts last year despite his consistently poor results. And this season, even though he was coming off his worst season in the minors (he went 4-8 with a 4.67 ERA in Rochester) the Twins called him up in September so he could try to finish on a high note.

    Instead, Hendriks has done the opposite. In what was likely his final start of the season, he was as bad as could be. And the timing could hardly be worse for the Aussie, who will be out of options next year. With the Twins badly needing to improve their organizational talent during the offseason, it's no longer palatable to dedicate a 40-man roster spot to someone who has unfortunately been one of the chief contributors to their pitching woes over the last couple years.
    This article was originally published in blog: Liam Hendriks Has Run Out of Chances started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 54 Comments
    1. IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
      IdahoPilgrim -
      I have great difficulty seeing this as a pitching coach problem. Given that Hendriks has been ineffective from day one, that would mean that our coaching staff managed to corrupt a budding young pitcher in almost record time. A case can perhaps be made that the coaching staff has failed to help Hendriks adjust to a higher level of competition, but that assumes he has the stuff to make it in the first place, which in my mind is by no means certain. This feels like another Slama situation - someone who has great stuff in the minor leagues but, for whatever reason, it just doesn't translate into major league success. This isn't that unusual a story, at this or any other club.
    1. IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
      IdahoPilgrim -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      How many games are left now? How about a damn different starting pitcher for each of them? It's like when bars have those "drink X number of different beers and get a t-shirt" things. Can we get some t-shirts out of the deal?
      Reminds me of a quip Reusse made last year during the revolving door rotation we had then - he noted that rookies often have initial success, based simply on the unfamiliarity factor. He jokingly said they should get 162 starting pitchers and have one start each game of the season.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I kind of like the idea of having two people in the bullpen who shift between long relief and LOOGY/ROOGY (ha) depending on the situation. Enter Andrew Albers and Liam Hendriks.

      I am also willing to try just about anything out of the gates in 2014. Four outfielders? Perkins and Burton pitching the first inning back and forth? Starting the DSL team as the Twins team? Smoking crack?
    1. matthew0211's Avatar
      matthew0211 -
      Mr. Hendriks has one option left. He was called up (added to the 40-man roster) in Sept. 2011, and was optioned to AAA in both 2012 and 2013.

      Not that it should have any bearing as to where (if) he fits into the team's plans in 2014.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by matthew0211 View Post
      Mr. Hendriks has one option left. He was called up (added to the 40-man roster) in Sept. 2011, and was optioned to AAA in both 2012 and 2013.

      Not that it should have any bearing as to where (if) he fits into the team's plans in 2014.
      That is correct, as Jeremy's page clearly indicates. Option him if need be and let him work out of the 'pen in Rochester. Seriously.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thegrin View Post
      He is young. Hendricks can still learn to pitch. He can learn to move the ball up and down, in and out while changing speeds with each pitch. If he learns to pitch, his Strikeout rate will improve, his groundball rate will improve, and his location will improve. This is what the minor leagues are for. We have Albers and Diamond, who are a couple years older, and they are learning to be pitchers. Hendricks can learn to do it as well.
      Problem is, the headline here is correct. His chances to become a pitcher here in Minnesota probably have run out. He may indeed learn to be a pitcher and do quite well, but unless he clears waivers and signs a minor league deal for another year in Rochester, it won't happen.

      Meanwhile, a team with an ambitious pitching coach that's looking for a promising young arm could snap up Hendriks and stash him in their MLB bullpen for a season to see what they can develop. It's a fairly low-risk move, and it might pan out. Frankly, it's in the best interest of the player to get some different pitching coaches to see if they can find a good pitcher in there somewhere. If it happens, I wouldn't be surprised.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Yeah, aside from just looking at Hendriks' performance, you have to have empathy for a guy who went through the system, was actually good-great throughout and then for whatever reason has faltered big time in the majors. Given other debacles on this staff, I am not willing to simply give Hendriks the blame here. And I do feel for the guy, as dumb as it sounds, for these big struggles. If you have listened to interviews with Seth, he knows the game well. And he WAS hitting 93-94 Monday night. I don't know. Clearly the Twins can shed some bullpen money (Burton) to then spend on starters, so Hendriks to the 'pen seems like a legit move.
    1. ltwedt's Avatar
      ltwedt -
      Seriously - Who on the Twins long list of "starters" would be in the "bigs" if it weren't for the Twins? Yeah - that's what I think, too. Nobody! Put them all out there on waivers - they will all pass through - Maybe it's time to put "Andy" on waivers, too!
    1. Steve Johnson's Avatar
      Steve Johnson -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      According to the article he's out of options next yr.
      Well okay, that's different and I stand corrected. But still, we don't have to make any sort of issue of this until the end of March. If he has a good spring, I'm guessing the Twins do not pick up enough talent this offseason to warrant any reason to keep him off the ML roster. If he's a mess, he likely passes waivers anyway.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by jorgenswest View Post
      Franks Viola was given 56 starts in his first two seasons. His second season he had an ERA+ of 77. Brad Radke led the league in home runs given up his first two seasons.

      They were both given a long sustained opportunity in the majors. They weren't pitching each start as if it was their last. I don't know if Hendriks was worth the same opportunity given his success in the minors. The Twins will never know. For his sake, I hope they release him and a team like the Pirates gives him a fresh start.
      So now he's the next Brad Radke waiting for an opportunity? Wow. FWIW, Radke's first three seasons in the majors:

      42-30 4.2 ERA 652 IP

      Hendrik's first three seasons in the majors:
      2-13 6.0 ERA 151.1 IP

      Radke was a stud from Day 1 at a younger age than Hendriks' debut. There is simply no comparison between them.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      So now he's the next Brad Radke waiting for an opportunity? Wow. FWIW, Radke's first three seasons in the majors:

      42-30 4.2 ERA 652 IP

      Hendrik's first three seasons in the majors:
      2-13 6.0 ERA 151.1 IP

      Radke was a stud from Day 1 at a younger age than Hendriks' debut. There is simply no comparison between them.
      You sure that's a fair stat comparison? Radke's first season his ERA was over 5.32 in 180+ innings. After 15 starts, his ERA was over 6.00. After 28 starts, his ERA was 5.32, Hendriks after 28 starts is 5.95.

      Radke was given a very long rope and people would have been calling for his head on this site if his rookie season was happening now.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      You sure that's a fair stat comparison? Radke's first season his ERA was over 5.32 in 180+ innings. After 15 starts, his ERA was over 6.00. After 28 starts, his ERA was 5.32, Hendriks after 28 starts is 5.95.

      Radke was given a very long rope and people would have been calling for his head on this site if his rookie season was happening now.
      Context required.

      The average team in the AL scored 5.1 runs per game in Radke's rookie year, 91 era+. It's been roughly 4.4 runs per game during Hendriks time, 69 era+.

      The comparison is a pretty poor one.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      Context required.

      The average team in the AL scored 5.1 runs per game in Radke's rookie year, 91 era+. It's been roughly 4.4 runs per game during Hendriks time, 69 era+.

      The comparison is a pretty poor one.
      That is true...however, there is no way to know for sure how he would have pitched in this era either...and his rookie year sure didn't make him a stud. That's the real problem when these kind of comparison even get broken out. Your point is taken and it's a good one, though.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Hendriks fits the mold of too many Twins-developed starting pitchers--no "finish-em-off" pitch. These guys are trained with a regimen of pitch-count management, "pound the strike-zone" mentality that often succeeds in the minor leagues. But every team is fully aware of "The Twins Way" of pitching and simply cherry-picks the pitches. In yesterday's game one of the A's stated that guys were jumping to the bat rack! We have been fed a lot of happy stories of young pitchers in the low minors and how well they have performed. How do we know they won't be the next wave of Slama/Hendriks or for that matter Blackburn, et al ?
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