Ten Starts In, And Tim Hudson Is As Dominant As Ever

A 1.92 ERA after ten starts may not normally be what you’d expect from your 38-year-old third starter. Then again, most 38-year-old third starters are not Tim Hudson.

Even with one missed start and a rain-shortened outing, Hudson has exceeded the expectations of many. However, this is nothing new to the veteran, who has logged a 3.42 ERA over 16 years of professional baseball.

“He’s had quite a career to this point, and he has a lot of baseball left,” said manager Bruce Bochy. “We were really excited to get him to come out here, and this is why.”

After a tough ankle injury cut Hudson’s 2013 short, the starter faced months of rehab and preparation to get back into major-league form. He’s been able to do that and more for the Giants, a team whose rotation has been marked with injury and uncertainty throughout the rotation. Even Opening Day starter Madison Bumgarner has struggled at home until his most recent start on Sunday afternoon. Hudson has been the rock of the rotation throughout the season, and continues to impress both at home and away from Third and King.

“It’s early in the year. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my season, with a new team, new organization, new teammates. I hope they don’t think I’m going to be this good all year,” said Hudson.

Tonight marked Hudson’s tenth start, where he lasted seven innings for the eighth time this year. He’s only allowed more than two earned runs once all season, most recently as he silenced a Chicago Cubs offense that scored eight in yesterday’s game.

“It was a night where I got in a couple jams, but was able to get away with a couple pitches that could have done some damage, but the guys made some good plays behind me, like they always do,” Hudson said.

The Giants defense has been strong behind Hudson, a ground-ball pitcher that needs his fielders to back him up. Both have worked well together, as Hudson was able to come back from a rather-lengthy break.

“I pitched three innings in about two weeks, said Hudson. “[Tonight] my timing was a little bit off at times, but I got away with some pitches that they probably could have done a little bit of damage with.”

Coming to a pitcher friendly park is never a bad thing for a strong arm, but Hudson has been able to capitalize on San Francisco’s advantage. The Giants have yet to lose a game at home with Hudson on the mound, going 5-0 so far this season.

“Anytime you go anywhere as a free agent, you have to look at all the factors…It’s a great place to pitch. All in all, it’s all positives and no negatives as a pitcher, so it’s a fun place to come out and challenge guys.”

Giants fans certainly agree, giving Hudson another standing ovation as he finished the seventh inning and walked back to the dugout this evening. Even with his success at home, Hudson has performed even better on the road, logging a 1.67 ERA away from San Francisco through his five games this season.

“From a command standpoint I think this is the best I’ve been,” he mentioned. “It has been fun – it’s exciting to go out there and give us a chance to win. Hopefully l I can just keep it up, stay healthy, stay strong, just keep on keeping on.”

Hudson may not be the same guy he was ten years ago with the Oakland Athletics, or a year later when he began his dominance with the Atlanta Braves, but his consistency over more than a decade and a half of play hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down.

“At this point in my career I don’t really try to overpower anybody. I don’t try to overthrow. I don’t try to throw through my mechanics,” he said. “I just trust with what I have and let it work, let it do its thing, and more times than not it’s been good enough to get people out.”

After coming off a rough ankle injury last season, Hudson has had to spend a lot more time in the training room, both before and during this season. His work has been able to keep him on the field this season, although his aches aren’t fully gone.

“[The ankle] as 100% as it’s going to get. During the games it gets a little cranky as the game wear on, but I think that’s expected for anybody, and with coming off an injury, especially for somebody as old as I am,” Hudson said.

As for an All Star bid?

“It’s not something I concentrate on. I just want to go out there and be prepared every time I pitch. I feel like if I’m prepared, and if physically, mentally and emotionally ready to pitch every fifth day, those kinds of things will take care of themselves.”

But, you know, it wouldn’t be a terrible thing.

“Obviously it would be a great honor, for anybody, especially coming off the injury from last year, wondering if I was even going to play anymore. It’s been a great start to the year. Lot of baseball left. Ten starts, about twenty-five more.”