A disclaimer of sorts first:
A) I’m hesitant to say that the Roberto Hernandez has proven that he’s — without a doubt — the most capable pitcher for the fifth starter position. True, he has strung together a handful of quality outings in his 11 starts. Though those outings have not been consistent, his previous two outings speak to that. Then again, Hellickson hasn’t looked too great either. I digress. It was an excellent confidence builder — and a blue print of sorts — for what his future starts could and should look like. If he is able to put together a slew of consistent outings, I’d be more than happy to see him pitch every five days.
B) It would be safe to say that Hernandez was bit lucky Wednesday night. The Marlins did hit a handful of hard hit balls, ones that could have fallen for hits. Some of those could also have turned into home runs had they been hit in a different facility (see hits in Coors Field), or hit with more backspin. Thankfully the outfielders — Matt Joyce especially — did an outstanding job in the field.
On with the show.
Simply put, Roberto Hernandez was stellar in the Rays 3-1 win against the Marlins Wednesday night. Posting an excellent 8.2 IP/3 H/1 R/0 ER/0 BB/5 K slash line, Hernandez went 22-for-28 in first pitch strikes, induced 12 groundouts and nine fly-outs, and at one point retired 15 consecutive batters (26 out of 27) — all on 92 pitches.
Hernandez mixed his pitches well, throwing his slider 22 times (24%), producing 16 strikes and two whiffs. He was also effective with his sinker and changeup, throwing each pitch for strikes over 70% of the time. As Ian Malinowski of DRaysBay noted,
Over the course of his career, he’s only thrown his slider 12% of the time and 2013 has been in line with those career numbers. Now I’ve been a pretty big Hernandez fan this year, but I didn’t see this coming as a way for him to succeed. I’ve noted that he’s found success by throwing more good changeups and by locating a front-door sinker to lefties. But his slider is an inferior pitch to his other two. I suppose sometimes you have an unusually good feel for a pitch, and in this age of highly detailed advanced scouting it pays to be unpredictable.
This was his longest start since August 17, 2011, back when he was known as Fausto Carmona and pitched for the Indians. It was also his first road win since that outing. If history speaks to anything, this could very well be the start of something very good.
The New What Next
Tampa Bay enters the final game of the Citrus Series four games over .500 for the first time this season. Matt Moore was initially scheduled to start against Ricky Nolasco, however a fingernail issue with Alex Cobb found a starting rotation in flux. The recently recalled Alex Colome will get the start Thursday, while Matt Moore will get the start against the Indians Friday. A pitcher to be determined — either Alex Torres or Chris Archer — will start Saturday.
So who is Colome? In short, he is a very good pitcher that has a very good fastball and three other outstanding secondary pitches. Per Ian Malinowski,
Scouting reports agree that he has a blazing mid 90s fastball, an impressive, high 80s to low 90s cutter/slider that may now be his second best pitch (Sobsey thinks so, and he’s probably the authority, seeing him most often), a curve, and a change. Previously, the curve ball was the pitch everyone was raving about, but it’s fallen off, or at least is used less frequently. The scouting reports I’ve seen mention Colome’s changeup almost as an afterthought (although Sobsey does say it has 10 mph of separation from the fastball), but before yesterday’s broadcast, Colome stated that the biggest difference for him this season was that Joel Peralta had worked with him in spring training and helped him learn to throw his changeup for strikes. It’s nice to see that even with James Shields gone, the Rays still have someone on staff preaching the change to the young’uns.
This should be an interesting game to say the least.
Rays 5/30/13 Starting Lineup