Back on April 2, the Dodgers made a seemingly unnoticeable move signing Daniel Hudson to a minor league deal. Hudson had just been released by the Tampa Bay Rays out of Spring Training five days prior.
A former frontline starter with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Hudson had been pitching as a reliever after undergoing Tommy John surgery for the second time in 2013. Pitching out of the bullpen between 2014-17, Hudson performed a less-than-spectacular 9-13 record with a 4.59 ERA.
Tail of Two Halves
|April 24-May 29||17||18||12||10||13||6.35|
|June 2- July 1||16||10||1||6||19||0.56|
In 2018, Hudson received his call-up with the Dodgers on April 24. He struggled early on, posting a 6.35 ERA at the end of May but has picked up his production ever since. In his last 16 innings of work, he has allowed just one run and has lowered his ERA to 3.55.
In 11 appearances this month, Daniel Hudson has a 0.64 ERA
— Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) July 1, 2018
Change in Velocity
Hudson’s increased production over the course of the season correlate with his rising velocity. Although changes in velocity are subtle, the maximum speed on his fastball has increased. In his first game with the Dodgers, his fastest pitch reached 95.3 MPH. On June 30, he reached a maximum speed of 97.4 MPH.
Hudson’s career has been a tail of two stories, divided by his Tommy John surgeries. Prior to the surgeries, he threw as a starter, with an average fastball velocity in the low 90s. Post-surgery, Hudson primarily pitched out of the bullpen, with a fastball in the mid-to-high 90s.
With his increased velocity, Hudson is allowing harder contact on batted balls. The percentage of hard hit balls against him has increased from 24.1 percent in April and May to 27.5 percents in June and July. Despite allowing harder contact, Hudson has increased both his groundball and strikeout rates as the season has progressed, resulting in his improved results.
Can We Trust Daniel Hudson?
The skepticism surrounding Daniel Hudson is his track record. In his years as a reliever, he has never maintained consistency for the duration of an entire season. He has not made any major mechanical changes this year and his numbers this season are not drastically different to his career numbers. With that said, Hudson has pitched lights out in recent weeks and he is the hot hand in the Dodgers bullpen.
Given his transition from a frontline starting pitcher to a flame throwing reliever, Daniel Hudson will constantly be compared to Brandon Morrow. With his performance over the last month, Hudson is giving his best Morrow impersonation. He has become the most consistent arm to serve as a bridge for Kenley Jansen and if Hudson’s success continues, he may become the Dodgers setup man in 2018.
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