Entering 2016, Liam Hendriks was one of my favorite relief sleepers. In fact, I fantasized in my Bold Predictions piece that he’d enter 2017 as an elite closer. And while the results are laughable in hindsight, you can understand why I was bullish on him.
Coming off an outstanding 2015 in Toronto, Hendriks entered a remade Oakland bullpen headlined by a formerly dominant but unequivocally injury prone Sean Doolittle. His other competition included renowned ball four-enthusiast, John Axford, rookie Ryan Dull, and a resurgent but Medicare-eligible Ryan Madson. All possessed as many risks as virtues and it seemed, given the lingering questions surrounding them, that Liam Hendriks’ big fastball, elite command, and strong ground ball rate should have put him towards the top of the queue once the inevitable arm injury befell Doolittle. So what happened?