It only took Brad Hand, the 26-year-old left handed reliever, five months (claimed off waivers April 8, 2016) to work his way into the Friars record books. Wednesday, Hand become only the sixth Padres reliever and only the second lefty reliever, to strikeout 100 batters in a season.
He puts his name among an impressive list, Rollie Fingers (113) the first to do it in 1977, followed by Lance McCullers (126) in ’87, Mark Davis (102) in ’88, Trevor Hoffman in ’96 (111) and ’97 (111), Heath Bell (102) in 2007, and now Brad Hand (100) in 2016. Hand also has the opportunity to move past Bell, Davis, and possibly even Hoffman with 14 games left in the season for him to work his magic on the mound.
His 100th K came in the bottom of the 7th inning today against the Giants. He came into the inning with 98 strikeouts and one of three outs already punched in by starter Luis Perdomo. He caught Brandon Belt swinging for his 99th strike , then punched out Kelby Tomlinson swinging for his 100th to end the inning. That K ended his appearance for the day as Ryan Buchter came in to replace Hand in the bottom of the 8th.
Brad Hand is now only one of two lefty relievers who have 100 strikeouts this season. Andrew Miler of the Cleveland Indians was the first lefty reliever to register 100 Ks. Hand, who is having a career year, is sporting 2.99 ERA and has allowed only 26 earned runs in 79 innings of play.
Prior to his career in San Diego, Brad Hand pitched for the Florida/Miami Marlins who he was drafted in the second round of the 2008 amateur draft. He showed promise from the beginning, in a somehow losing effort he only allowed one earned run, one hit, and one walk while striking out six through 6.1 innings. He would finish that year 1-8 over 12 starts posting a 4.20 ERA. However, over the next two seasons he only pitched 24.1 innings in eight separate appearances leading to a 1-2 total record in those two seasons. 2014 was the year Hand really started seeing action, he pitched 111.0 innings in 32 appearances, only 12 of which were starts.
This is the year Brad Hand would start seeing his role more as a reliever than a starter, which 15 out of 20 first appearances were starts. The following year he made more appearances for the Fish but managed to only pitch 93.1 innings but allowed one more run than he did his previous year. His last game for the Marlins was September 30th, 2015 where he struck out two and allowed one hit through a one-inning appearance.
His first appearance in San Diego came April 9th against the Rockies where he struck one batter out over another one-inning appearance. Since then, Brad Hand has struck out 99 batters, allowed only 26 earned runs (29 total), and walked only 34 in only 73 appearances.
Talks about throwing Hand into the starting rotation have been swirling around the dugout in recent weeks. However, in his 73 appearances Hand has only managed to pitch 79 innings, including today’s .2 inning played. He has only pitched above two innings once (5/14 @ Milwaukee 4.0 IP). If the Padres are unable to make a smooth transition with him into the starting role, I can fully imagine him being a shut down reliever for the Friars for many many years to come. Being only 26-years-old and having control over Hand until after the 2019 season should give Padre fans everywhere some excitement.