The San Diego Padres seem to be hitting all the right notes of late. They have won seven of their last 13 with Brad Hand playing a vital role.
Brad Hand shows tremendous poise every time he takes the mound and Friday evening was no different for the San Diego Padres closer. Craig Stammen, having retired the first two batters, ended up loading the bases in the bottom of eighth. Manager Andy Green decided to turn the reigns over to Hand to record the final four outs of the game.
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Showing no signs of nerves what so ever, Brad Hand retired Gregory Polanco to end the inning. He would give up one hit in the ninth before slamming the door shut on another Padres’ victory.
Hand takes his own sweet time in-between pitches. Carefully concealing his left hand behind the gloves, Hand’s thought process seems to know the exact pitch that is coming out next. His left hand finds the appropriate grip on the baseball, one glance at the runners (if any) and he hurls it with absolute control.
Brad Hand is as cool as a cucumber. Time and again he follows the same procedure without giving a second thought to the batter’s reputation. He was responsible for a couple of close losses earlier this season but has come into his own as the season has progressed. He richly deserves all the attention for the thirteen saves he has mustered in the first-quarter of the 2018 season.
The stats don’t lie for the San Diego Padres closer.
Hand has pitched 23 1/3 innings with a 2.31 earned run average. He has allowed 14 hits,11 walks, and has struck out 37 hitters, equating to a strikeout rate of 38% and a walk rate of 11%. Seven of those walks came in three outings, the three worst of his season, thus far. In five of his outings of at least one inning, Hand has struck out every single hitter faced.
Brad Hand’s 13 saves place him third behind Wade Davis and Edwin Diaz. His strikeout rate is good for 13th in MLB among all relievers, while his .169 opponents’ batting average is a respectable 25th in baseball.
The question facing the Padres will be whether to trade him or not. Hand’s performance under pressure will bring about incredible trade offers for Padres’ front office, especially if they are not in the playoff hunt. However, it might be worth keeping the 28-year-old southpaw for the next few years and reap the benefits when the Padres are ready to contend because closing pitchers are difficult to find and despite a small handful of bad outings. Hand has been largely dominant this year.