The Curious Case of Nick Hagadone
Laurel Wilder | On 11, Apr 2015
Nick Hagadone is a puzzling pitcher.
Just this week alone, he has been the target of ridicule with little regard for his success after spoiling the Indians’ first chance at pitching a collective no-hitter since Len Barker’s perfect game in 1981. However, after giving up a home run to Jed Lowrie during Thursday’s game against the Astros, Hagadone then struck out the next two batters to finish the game and secure the Indians 5-1 victory over Houston. Surely something to be celebrated, right?
Many fans, though, can only see the negative of Hagadone’s performance. It’s easy to see why — Hagadone spoiled what could have been a history-making achievement for the Tribe, and struggled during his outing on the Wednesday before.
On April 8, Hagadone appeared in the seventh inning and faced two batters, walking one and allowing a hit to the other. He threw 10 total pitches.
Terry Francona told Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com on Thursday that he went to Hagadone in the ninth inning to instill confidence in the pitcher. “We wanted Hags to get back on the horse,” said Francona. “We wanted him to get back out there after Wednesday’s outing.
“We’re going to lean on Hags and we want to get him going and feeling good about himself. It would have been easy to go to Shaw or Cody, but with all the switch-hitters (three) they had coming up, we felt it was a good time to go to Hags.”
Unfortunately, the confidence booster may have taken a step back after giving up the home run to Lowrie. Cleveland.com also reported that Hagadone expressed frsutration after the game.
Striking out the last two batters of the game, though, should demonstrate the Hagadone that he is capable of making important outs when the time calls for it. Had the Tribe not been close to securing an historic win, would fans be more receptive to Hagadone’s final performance of the night?
It’s a big “what-if.” Hagadone was tasked with the unfortunate responsibility of pitching in a major high-pressure situation. Any pitcher in his place would have dealt with the same nerves, and who knows if they would have faced the same results? We can only speculate.
Now, unfairly, Hagadone is going to be remembered as the pitcher who spoiled the no-hitter in the ninth inning. It’s unfortunate because Hagadone was near-perfect during Spring Training, giving up one hit, walking one batter, and striking out seven in 8.1 innings of work throughout the nine games in which he appeared. He secured a roster spot to start the season with the big league team. After seasons of inconsistency, marred with a broken hand following his wall punching incident in 2012, Hagadone seemed to be heading into 2015 with support and a new control of the game.
His pitching prowess is, likely, still there. One outing is (hopefully) not enough to squelch his years of progress. Again, Hagadone returned from giving up that dreaded home run to strike out the next two batters he faced. I can’t repeat that enough: he didn’t let that home run affect his performance for the rest of that outing. He came back from it. He didn’t let it define his game. Sure, spoiling a no-hitter will be a defining moment of the game overall, but it didn’t define Hagadone’s performance.
The Hagadone of past seasons would have reacted to the home run with more than just frustration. Who know what happens behind closed doors; maybe he did after the cameras and media members turned away. However, to fans and those in the stands, Hagadone watched a ball sail over the wall in Minute Maid Park, turned back to the plate, and finished the game.
He didn’t let a player cross the plate for the rest of the game.
His case is a curious one. He’s been plagued by inconsistency and struggles in the past and seemed to have settled into a groove. He put a black mark next to his name with his outing on Thursday, despite bouncing back. Fans seem to have it out for the pitcher because of appearances past, despite his working to remedy his outings and maintain consistency. Giving up one home run does not necessitate anger and aggression from fans. Keep more runs off the board, however, does.
Photo: Bob Levey/Getty Images