Dave Dombrowski has established his routine with the construction where he’ll hand out a few one-year deals to veterans arms, deals that don’t include a large guarantee (or at least one that will hurt the bottom line) and hope for the best. Sometimes the deals don’t work (Jeurys Familia), sometimes they do. Brad Hand’s contract was pretty much exactly what he was worth. He did his job, now the team moves on to another veteran to give a one year deal to.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
2022 stats: 55 G, 45 IP, 37 H, 18 R (14 ER), 19.2 K%, 11.6 BB%, 2.80 ERA (3.93 FIP), 0.9 bWAR
About the best thing one can say about Hand’s 2022 season is that he didn’t really kill the Phillies in any of his outings. Running back through his game log, there are only a handful of games where the linescore is ugly. The worst game was his outing on September 20, one in which he gave up four runs in 1⁄3 of an inning. He more or less did his job. Maybe it wasn’t the prettiest thing to watch, but it was adequate enough.
I think Hand inherited the Hector Neris mantle of “oh no, he’s coming in, cover your eyes” outings. You never really knew what you were going to get, but you could be sure that he’d be walk a tightrope as soon as he got on the mound. The walk rate that he posted was absurdly high, to point where he was near unusable in the postseason. As Rob Thomson cycled through his relievers towards the end, having a left hander like Hand could have made a big difference as it could have helped out Jose Alvarado in some key situations. Alas, Hand’s dependability wavered with each passing week.
Up to the playoffs, Hand was stuck in that role of “not quite trustworthy, but he can still get some guys out” limbo relievers get into. In the first two rounds, he wasn’t much of a factor, but once the team reached the NLCS, Hand was going to play a part. In game two, that part pretty much shoveled the final pile of dirt on any hope he was going to be a high leverage reliever.
Aaron Nola had just surrendered the lead and needed to come out, visibly exhausted from the season to that point. The game was still tied, but the Padres has men on second and third and there were two out. Hand was summoned to get Jake Cronenworth out and keep the game tied, but...
It put game two out of reach for the Phillies, a game in a series they would eventually win. What I remember is how angry I was, irrationally, at Hand, but it was kind of a microcosm. Living on the edge for so long before falling off and giving us a bushel of runs.
Hand has moved on from the team, destined to get another job with someone else. Whether that job includes a major league contract or a minor league one, time will tell. So long as he continues to throw with his left hand, however, his phone will continue to ring each offseason.
Final grade: C
He wasn’t great, he wasn’t bad, he was just average. The ERA may have fooled some for a while into thinking his season was deserving of more playing time, but those of us who are educated in the analytics know to look beyond the baseball card numbers.