The San Diego Padres setup reliever Brad Hand is consistent, reliable, and resilient. He also pitches a lot of innings, in case you haven’t noticed.
Watch out, Cal Ripken. The San Diego Padres have their own version of an “iron man”. Though he goes under the radar in most cases, Brad Hand has personified persistence and consistency throughout his tenure with the San Diego Padres.
Last season, Hand led the National League with 82 appearances, encompassing 89 and 1/3 total innings. This season, he is continuing this pace, already appearing in 31 games.
Coupled with a this substantial amount of appearances is a consistency which is hard to find. Hand’s ERA since coming to San Diego has been the lowest of his career, dating back to 2011 when he made his major league debut with the Marlins.
Last season, Hand recorded a 2.92 ERA, and this season he is at 3.03. His low ERA despite pitching often speaks to how reliable Hand is to take the mound even when it would seem logical to give him a day off.
For some reason, Hand is able to go under the radar, and isn’t often compared to or even mentioned with baseball’s top relief pitchers. One theory which might explain this is that he only has three saves in 113 games with the Padres, and has only recorded the final out of 25 contests.
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This doesn’t mean that the left-hander doesn’t pitch in pressure situations though. On the contrary, Hand is who Andy Green trusts most to match up against left-handed batters when runners are on base. He will come in at any point in a close game, making him an extremely valuable piece and a unique weapon that not many teams are fortunate enough to have.
The Padres have other talented relievers. Closer Brandon Maurer is having a solid 2017 so far, as is Craig Stammen and Ryan Buchter. But Hand stands out in the Friars’ bullpen due to his reliability and stamina. He is truly an “iron man”.
With the way this season is going, it’s hard to know what to expect when tuning in to a Padres game. But one constant which fans can pretty much bank on is that Brad Hand is going to find himself into the game. He is also very likely to get the Padres out of a jam.