PawSox' Hernandez in the bullpen, but for how long?
For the time being, Pawtucket Red Sox left-hander Chris Hernandez will pitch out of the bullpen. He began the season in the teamâs starting rotation. PHOTO BY JILLIAN SOUZA.
PAWTUCKET â Gary DiSarcina wasted little time in explaining why the PawSox are refraining from employing a six-man starting rotation.
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âChris Hernandez will be in the bullpen,â the Pawtucket skipper stated prior to Thursdayâs game, which was started by Alfredo Aceves.
Originally, Hernandez was penciled in to start Fridayâs game against Durham, but those plans were nixed after the lefty worked two innings in Thursdayâs game. Fridayâs nod went to Allen Webster, who will be followed by Terry Doyle (Saturday), Steven Wright (Sunday) and Rubby De La Rosa (Monday) before Acevesâ next turn on Tuesday in Gwinnett.
As long as Aceves remains with the PawSox, Hernandez will likely be stationed in the bullpen. DiSarcina noted that the 24-year-old will not be subjected to typical relieving protocol, meaning Hernandez figures to serve as the backup plan on days Aceves takes the mound.
âYou donât want to use him in short stints,â said DiSarcina. âItâs good to have him the bullpen right now. He gives us some length some length out there, but I wouldnât say this is permanent.â
Added Hernandez, âThis is just rolling with how things are going on right now.â
Thereâs also another way to look at Hernandezâ relocation. If Aceves strings together more outings like the six scoreless innings he blanketed the Bulls with Thursday, a return trip to Boston could present itself.
If such a scenario comes to pass the Red Sox could look to Double-A Portland to fill the spot in Pawtucketâs rotation rather than slot Hernandez back into the fray. One Sea Dog candidate who has set himself up quite nicely for a promotion is Anthony Ranaudo (remember him?). The former LSU star struggled mightily in his first Double-A go-around in 2012, one that saw him post a 6.69 ERA in nine starts and make two trips to the disabled list.
Now that Ranaudo is enjoying and sustaining his success â heâs 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA in five starters this season â a promotion to the PawSox could come sooner rather than later. Another possibly to keep an eye on is Brandon Workman, who will take a 4-0 record with a 2.73 ERA into Sundayâs start in Portland.
However things play out, Hernandez could very well remain in Pawtucketâs bullpen and become the latest in a line of Red Sox pitching prospects who undergoes a starting-to-relieving reclassification at the Triple-A level â Michael Bowden in 2010 and Alex Wilson last season are two recent examples.
Hernandez began the season in the rotation and made five starts (0-2, 4.56 ERA) before getting placed on the temporary inactive list on April 27. A year ago, he was second among full-time Red Sox minor-league qualifiers with a 3.26 ERA over 26 games, eight coming with the PawSox.
Thursday marked just the second relief appearance of Hernandezâ pro career, one dating back to 2010, when he was drafted by Boston in the seventh. Including this year, he has made 56 minor-league starts.
âIt was fun to go out there and get a different perspective,â stated Hernandez after allowing one run in two innings against the Bulls. âFor what I know right now, Iâm just doing what they tell me. Whether itâs going to be following Alfredo, Iâm not really sure. Iâm taking the mentality that Iâm coming out of the âpen and making sure that Iâm getting ready for each game.â
Of the six outs Hernandez recorded Thursday, four were the result of groundballs. DiSarcina referenced that along with the fact that groundball outs for the southpaw were few and far between when he was taking the ball once every five days. The numbers bear that out as Hernandez never went more than five innings in any of his PawSox starts, the result of high pitch counts that according to the skipper stemmed from âpitching around the zone.â
âIn my bullpens, Iâve been working on staying down in the zone. Thatâs something I needed to get back to that was there during my prior years,â said Hernandez. âNow I feel good in the sense where Iâm getting on top of everything and throwing strikes.â