In a few hours, Livan Hernandez will take the hill against the Mets, and he will look to continue one of the luckiest runs in the history of major league baseball.
A quick look at the gap between Hernandez’s ERA (1.46) and his xFIP (5.09) would tell that he’s gotten fortunate, but I don’t even think those numbers do justice just how incredibly Hernandez has walked the tightrope this season.
He’s thrown 49 1/3 innings in his seven starts and allowed just nine runs while putting 51 men on base. Well, that’s not really true, because he’s allowed six home runs, so those guys were never really “baserunners” in the sense that most of us think of the word. Take the home runs out of the picture, and Hernandez has put 45 guys on base. Three of them have scored.
Three. Out of 45.
And the hilarious part is that he hasn’t even pitched all that well with runners on base. He’s pitched to 71 hitters when there as at least one man on. Of those 71, he’s walked nine, struck out just six, and posted an okay-but-not-spectacular 47% groundball percentage. However, opponents have an .054 batting average on balls in play against him in those situations. Oh Fifty Four.
It’s even better when opponents have put a runner in scoring position. In the 38 batters who have faced Hernandez with a chance to drive in a run, one has gotten a hit, and it was a single. Opponents are 1 for 30 with seven walks and a sac fly against Livan in RISP situations. Only four of those 29 outs were strikeouts.
I figured I should write about this while I still had the chance, because every time he takes the hill, there’s a chance it will all just blow up. No one can sustain this for very long, especially not a guy who just throws the ball over the plate and hopes the ball finds one of his fielders. But yet, for seven miraculous starts, Hernandez has seen just that happen.
It’s one of the most amazing things we’ll ever see on a baseball field.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.