Brad Hand didn’t start the season wearing Padres blue, brown, gold, and navy camouflage, but somehow still became one of the most active players on the 2016 roster. His standout stat for the season was his 82 games pitched. That is second to only Craig Lefferts’ 83 games pitched in 1986 for most in a single Padres season. He began the season with the Miami Marlins, but on April 8 he was claimed off of waivers by San Diego where he was given the opportunity to shine.
When Hand first joined the club his role was a bit unknown. He had been a starter for much of his Marlins career, starting 43 games over 5 years for Miami. His first work for the Friars came at Coors Field working in a mop up role during a 16-3 victory. His next couple outings seemed more like a lefty specialist. However, he then had a couple outings where he was more of a long reliever. And that’s when his role became clear: he was the swiss army knife of the bullpen and could be deployed for any task.
A couple months later, after Fernando Rodney was traded, a new role was added for Mr. Hand: late innings. Specifically, one that could protect close leads. Before the Rodney trade Hand accumulated 5 holds and afterwards he tallied 16 more. That total of 21 led the team. Hand successfully transitioned from Marlins cast off to high leverage reliever.
In addition to Hand’s coming-of-age-in-the-majors story, he also has a fun name to play with. For those that remember Fast Times at Ridgemont High, you will recall the character Mr. Hand and his discussions with Jeff Spicoli about “our time” and if it is wasted. As a reliever coming in for key situations, any time wasted out there is probably going to cost the team the game. So you (like my dad) can tell him “Don’t waste our time together, Mr. Hand.” There are also some less clean ways to talk about Hand and how he is relieving things. Especially, when for a brief time one of the starting pitchers was Erik Johnson. I will leave that to your imagination.
In 2017, I would expect these fun times with Mr. Hand to be continued. Those 82 games pitched showed that manager Andy Green leaned on him heavily and would likely want to do so again next year. His 2.92 ERA and 1.8 WAR would also point in that direction. He will be in his first year of eligibility for arbitration, so he also promises to be relatively inexpensive. That’s all would seem to point to at least another year with one of our favorites.