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Rob Neyer - Hernandez is getting hit historically hard

A great take on Livan's season by Rob Neyer at ESPN.com

For those of you that cannot access the link, here's the meat of the article:

Only six pitchers since the 19th century have given up more than 12.5 hits per nine innings, and all of them pitched from 1929 through 1937.

Until this year. (Yes, we have finally arrived at the point of this little history lesson.) On Wednesday, pitching against the Red Sox, Livan Hernandez was touched for 11 hits before getting yanked in the fifth inning. In 120 2/3 innings this season, Hernandez has given up 173 hits. That's 12.9 hits per nine innings, which -- if Hernandez maintains that rate -- would be the highest figure for an ERA qualifier since Ray Benge gave up 12.94 hits per nine innings in 1936. Since World War II, only two pitchers -- LaTroy Hawkins in 1999 and Carlos Silva in 2006 -- have given up more than 12 hits per nine innings. Notice a pattern here? Hawkins and Silva were both Minnesota Twins, like Hernandez. Silva was (and is) an extreme control pitcher, like Hernandez. The problem is that it's very difficult to win if you're giving up a dozen hits per nine innings. Hawkins went 10-14 with a 6.66 ERA; Silva went 11-15 with a 5.94 ERA. Which makes Hernandez's season all the more remarkable. He's giving up more hits than those guys did, yet even after Wednesday's pasting in Boston he's 9-6 with a 5.44 ERA. And I'm sorry to keep hammering on this point, but while Hernandez is working his way toward an unflattering distinction, Francisco Liriano is making monkeys of International League hitters. Hernandez is earning $5 million this season. The other four members of the Twins' rotation, all put together, are making less than one-fourth of that. So when it's time to bring Liriano up -- which is to say, yesterday at the very latest -- who loses his job? One of the young, ill-paid, but effective starters? Or will it be instead the Les Sweetland of the 21st century? We can only wait and see.
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