PHOENIX -- D-backs manager Kirk Gibson has tried to be cautious with how he has used setup man David Hernandez.
Despite that, though, the right-hander had appeared in 33 games heading into Thursday's series finale with the Giants and is on pace to appear in nearly 80 games this year.
The 26-year-old was a starter during his time in the Baltimore farm system before shifting to the bullpen last year. He appeared in 41 games for the Orioles last season, eight as a starter. The D-backs dealt third baseman Mark Reynolds to Baltimore for Hernandez and Kam Mickolio during the offseason, and Hernandez has proven to be one of the team's most reliable relievers.
"You worry about him because he's really been a starter," Gibson said. "So we've held him out, we've given him days off, but we're in uncharted territory."
Hernandez is 2-2 with a 2.81 ERA as the team's primary setup man. He also saved two games when closer J.J. Putz was unavailable. With the D-backs playing so many one-run games and in the thick of the National League West race, the temptation to use Hernandez is great.
"We haven't extended him unreasonably," Gibson said. "I think I probably could have pitched him more, but have not thinking of the long range. It's my belief that if I continued to do that [extend him], he wouldn't be healthy for us all year. So you have to balance that."