Livan to remain in Rockies' rotation
Hurdle sticks with righty despite struggles since acquisition
DENVER -- Clint Hurdle refuses to publicly concede this season, but it took just three words from the Rockies' skipper to illustrate the reality of his team's situation.
"He's still in," Hurdle said before Saturday's game against the Reds.
Hurdle was referring to Livan Hernandez, who will remain in the rotation, despite giving up six runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings against the Reds on Friday. In three starts with the Colorado, Hernandez is 1-2 with a 15.32 ERA.
If Hurdle believed the Rockies had a legitimate shot at winning the division, he likely would have replaced Hernandez with veteran lefty Glendon Rusch.
While Rusch hasn't blown away opponents this season, he's been consistent, posting a 4-1 record since May 31. Rusch was moved to the bullpen to make room for Hernandez, though, and has given up just one run in 4 2/3 innings of relief.
Hurdle spoke with Hernandez on Saturday and left the conversation feeling confident.
"He's got a passion for improvement," Hurdle said. "He's not happy with his performance. I told him to focus on what he's got to do, the adjustments he's got to make to have more consistency with his location and unpredictability for his next start."
The Rockies were eight games back in the National League West when they acquired Hernandez, a 13-year veteran, off waivers from Minnesota on Aug. 10. The thought then was that he would be able to fill a void in the back end of the rotation and help the Rockies claw back into the playoff hunt.
That hasn't happened. The Rockies were nine games back of Arizona in the National League West before Saturday's game, and Hernandez has given up at least six runs in all three of his starts.
Hurdle says the Rockies added Hernandez not just for the stretch run, but also to see if he could possibly be a fit in the rotation for next season.
"We don't make Band-Aid decisions here," Hurdle said. "We don't make short-term decisions. We brought him in with a two-fold purpose. He hasn't gotten out of the blocks the way he wanted to or we wanted him to, but that being said, we were in a bad position when he got here."
The chances of Hernandez actually donning purple pinstripes next year are bleak. Hernandez isn't signed past this season, and the Rockies have a number of younger players -- Jorge De La Rosa, Jason Hirsh and Franklin Morales, to name a few -- who will be vying for a starting spot come next spring.
But the Rockies have to deal with their current situation, and that begins with finding a way to get improved results from Hernandez. After Friday's disheartening loss, Hernandez vowed for improvement.
"The season isn't over," Hernandez said. "I'm going to come back and try to make people out and try to win some games. I know I can do it."
Jeff Birnbaum is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.