Claimed off waivers from the Marlins in early April, Brad Hand racked up a career-high 111 strikeouts over 82 relief appearances despite previous forays in Miami as a member of the starting rotation. It was somewhat surprising the Marlins decided he didn't fit in their own stable of relievers, especially since he had demonstrated excellent splits against lefties in 2015 while spitting time between the rotation and bullpen. Nevertheless, Hand emerged as one of the top relievers in the San Diego bullpen, fanning 30.5 percent of the batters he faced and holding the opposition to a .193 batting average. In terms of his arsenal, Hand moved further away from his curveball and changeup, and instead leaned on a fastball-slider combo, throwing the latter offering 30.3 percent of the time. The slider was particularly effective for Hand, and it's fair to suggest that he's become one of the top left-handed relievers in the game over the course of the past year.
Manager Andy Green said that Hand will make the Opening Day roster as a member of the Padres' bullpen. Hand had his best season as a professional last season in San Diego (2.92 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 21 holds), something that many pitchers experience when becoming a Padre. It was more than just ballpark factor that contributed to his newfound success, as his strikeout rate (11.2) and FIP (3.12) experienced tremendous growth while the rest of his metrics remained relatively constant. The biggest change Hand made last season was relying on his curveball more than he has in year's past. He threw his bender 31.4 percent of the time last season compared to 15.1 percent the year prior. Hand will look to repeat his 2016 success and should be a decent source of holds in either a seventh or eighth inning role this year.
Hand agreed to a one-year deal with the Padres on Friday, avoiding arbitration. The terms of the agreement were not made public. Hand officially transferred to a relief role last season and was quite successful, posting a 2.92 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 111:36 K:BB in 89.1 innings out of the bullpen. He should continue to pitch in high-leverage spots this season, but Brandon Maurer figures to open the year as the team's closer, so saves won't be readily available.
Hand has allowed seven earned runs across 9.2 innings in the month of June, bringing his ERA up to 3.89 for the season. Hand has continued to strike out plenty of batters this season, as he has an 11.4 K/9, but his struggles with control remain an issue. His walk rate is currently 13.5 percent, contributing to his opponent on-base percentage of .339. However, Hand's endurance has been valuable to the Padres, as he frequently throws two or more innings out of the bullpen.
Hand threw a scoreless inning, allowing two walks and striking out three in Wednesday's matchup with the Cubs. Hand's production has been highly variable this season as he's given up earned runs in six of his 16 appearances. The southpaw strikes batters out as he's collected 18 K's over his 14.1 innings of work but he still allows too many hits and walks as he's accumulated a 1.74 WHIP. The 26-year-old will look to improve upon his peripherals in his mid to late inning relief role as the 2016 season continues.
Hand was claimed off waivers by the Padres on Friday, Dennis Lin of the Union-Tribune reports. Hand was DFA'd by the Marlins earlier in the week and will now join the Padres as a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen. His experience at the major league level could bump lefties such as Ryan Buchter or Robbie Erlin back down to the minors. Hand struck out 29 of the 110 lefties he faced in 2015 while allowing a .206 batting average against.