Braves seem to find a good fit with Hernandez

Livan Hernandez is obviously not the same pitcher that he was when he (and plate umpire Eric Gregg) combined for 15 strikeouts in Game 5 of the 1997 National League Championship Series.  Nor does he have the same youtful vigor that he did when he combined for 734 2/3 innings between 2003-05.

But Hernandez is certainly capable of handling the role the Braves provided when they signed him just hours after the Astros had released him on Friday.   The veteran right-hander will essentially serve as the seventh member of the bullpen.  He will handle the long relief role and  make occasional starts when injury or a schedule change affects the rotation.

In other words, he’ll be exactly what Cristian Martinez was last year.  And the fact that he is now a part of Atlanta’s bullpen means the Braves will now be able to use Martinez in more middle relief situations without having to worry about the possibility of needing him to serve as a long reliever  the next day.

Kris Medlen, Eric O’Flaherty and Jonny Venters will primarily handle all of the middle relief/setup setup situations.  Throwing Martinez and left-hander Yohan Flande in the mix could further lessen the strain the aforementioned relievers experience over the course of the season.

Hernandez’s presence will not immediately affect Randall Delgado or  Julio Teheran.  Braves general manager Frank Wren said either Delgado or Teheran would still be projected to start three games the fifth starter’s spot is needed before Tim Hudson returns in late April.

Wren will continue to search for a right-handed hitting outfielder or third baseman who would fortify the club’s depth.

As Nationals outfielder Xavier Nady played against the Braves on Thursday, he was led to believe that he could be traded to the Braves by the time the game ended.  But it does not appear the Braves have much interest in the injury-riddled veteran.

Jair Jurrjens will pitch tonight’s game against the Astros at Disney.  Delgado is pitching against the split-squad Astros team in Kissimmee tonight.

With Carlos Lee, Jose Altuve and Brian Bogusevic present, it’s safe to say Jurrjens will be challenged more than he was on Sunday when he cruised through six innings against a split-squad Astros club.   This outing should give the club a better indication of where the right-hander stands with Opening Day just six days away.




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