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The season that was: Liam Hendriks

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Liam Hendriks had a fairly interesting run up to the 2015 season. In 2014 he made 3 spot starts for the Jays, the first two went pretty well, lots of fly balls to the track but, maybe by luck more than anything else, he kept us in both games and we both. The third one didn't go so well, he only made it thru 1.2 innings and allowed 6 earned, but we still won.

A little later in the season, he gets traded to the Royals, with Erik Kratz for Danny Valencia and he had a close up view of their playoff run. After the season, he gets traded back to the Jays for Santiago Nessy.

I didn't have much for expectations, but Liam was out of options and he seemed to be throwing harder in spring training. He had a good spring, getting 11 strikeouts in 9.2 innings. To start the season, the Jays decided to go with an 8-man bullpen, and just Steve Tolleson to be the only backup infielder. I'm really not a fan of the 8-man pen, but the Jays figured it would be easier to sneak a pitcher through waivers 10 days into the season, instead of right at the start of the season.

It turned out that that Jays never did try to sneak Liam through waivers, and he had a good season:

Year   Age W L  ERA  G SV   IP  H ER HR BB SO ERA+  FIP BB9 SO9
2015    26 5 0 2.92 58  0 64.2 59 21  3 11 71  135 2.14 1.5 9.9

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He had 2 blown saves.

Liam didn't pitch much in the playoffs, 5 innings total, giving up 5 hits, 3 earned with 2 strikeouts.

Baseball Reference has him at a 0.9 WAR. FanGraphs was a little more charitable, putting him at a 1.5 WAR, giving him a value of $12.2 million to the Jays.

He had a 2.14 FIP and a 2.80 xFIP.

Batters had a .322 BABIP off him.

Compared to 2014, Liam struck out a lot more batters (27.2%, up from 16.1) and walked fewer (4.2%, from 4.9). Batters hit fewer line drives off him (22.6% from 24.8), more ground balls (46.3% from 38.5) and fewer fly balls (31.1% from 36.7). And fewer of his fly ball left the park (5.5% from 7.5).

As you likely know, LHB hit much better (.283/.321/.425) than RHP (.207/.242/.257) off of him.

He was much better at home (2.21 ERA, .213/.255/.287) than on the road (3.86 ERA, .273/.302/.382).

He had a bit of trouble with RISP (.271/.308/.390).

He was pretty much the same in the first half (3.00, .235/.268.315) and the second half (2.81, .247/.288/.351).

Hendriks by month:

  • April: 4.70 ERA, batters hit .250/.300/.250 in 7.2 innings.
  • May: 3.68 ERA, batters hit .189/.228/.358 in 14.2 innings.
  • June: 0.00 ERA, batters hit .231/.259/.250 in 13 innings.
  • July: 2.70 ERA, batters hit .171/.171/.229 in 10 innings.
  • August: 3.12 ERA, batters hit .324/.410/.353 in 8.2 innings.
  • Sept/Oct: 4.22 ERA, batters hit .295/.304/.500 in 10.2 innings.

Liam had a very good year, but he didn't seem to totally get Gibby's confidence. He did have a couple of bad outings with the game on the line and those things stand out in a managers mind. I can understand that, those games do tend to stick out in a person's mind, but it would have been nice to have given him some more higher leverage spots.

The trade for Jesse Chavez caught us by surprise (we sure make a lot of trades with the A's, I wonder if that will continue under the new regime). I think Liam was the better pitcher last year, though Chavez is likely a better choice for spot starter. Maybe better for long relief, and that seemed to be the role that Liam was likely to fill next season. Course, we could use another setup man, and Hendriks could have moved into a more important role in the pen.

I kind of liked the guy, I like relievers that can get strikeouts. I hope things go well for him in Oakland, except when he's facing us.