Blaine Hardy just finished his fourth season as a member of the Tigers bullpen. He, like Alex Wilson, saw a dramatic decrease in his performance last year.
Hardy was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 2008, but was released by the organization in 2013. He signed with the Tigers and after another year in the minors he made his major league debut in 2014.
Between 2014 and 2016, Hardy tossed 126 innings with a 3.00 ERA and 134 ERA+.
His 7.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 weren’t anything special however, and his fortunes turned in 2017.
Hardy only threw 33.1 innings last season, and the results were ugly. He finished with a 5.94 ERA, a 1.77 WHIP and a 28/13 K/BB ratio.
Hardy was victimized by the long ball, surrendering seven on the season. That left him with a 1.9 HR/9, the highest of his career by a considerable margin.
Still, despite the struggles Hardy has remained an effective bullpen piece simply because of his ability to get left-handed hitters out. Lefty’s hit .259 off Hardy last season. He posted a 1.17 WHIP against left-handers compared to a 2.19 WHIP against right-handers.
Hardy should be given every opportunity to reprise his role as a situational lefty in the Tigers bullpen in 2018.
Entering his age 31-season, Hardy is controlled by the Tigers through 2021. If he has a successful season, the Tigers could look to dump him in a deadline deal to a contender.
If healthy, Hardy will be a big piece of the Tigers bullpen next season. It would be wise for new manager Ron Gardenhire to limit him against right-handers as much as possible.
If that can be accomplished, Hardy should rebound from his ugly 2017 and find his groove again next year.