Although he enjoyed a strong finish to the 2019 season in the bullpen, Red Sox lefty Darwinzon Hernandez tells Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe that he still prefers to work as a starter in the long run. The 23-year-old emphasized that being on the team, whether as a starter or reliever, is still his top priority and voiced a willingness to pitch in any role the club fits. Notably, though, Abraham suggests that while former skipper Alex Cora believed Hernandez is best-suited for a short relief role, new manager Ron Roenicke agrees with Hernandez that he should be in the mix for a starting job. “You have to consider it,” Roenicke told Abraham. “He’s still a young pitcher, and there’s a lot to work with.”
Hernandez punched out nearly 39 percent of the hitters he faced in the Majors last year (57 in 30 1/3 innings) but also issued 16 walks in that time. Control has been a longstanding issue for the big lefty, evidenced by a career 5.5 BB/9 mark in the minors. Still, the Red Sox’ rotation is anything but settled at the moment, with Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, reclamation project Martin Perez and journeyman Ryan Weber occupying the top four spots. Certainly, there’s room to take a look to see if Hernandez can finally rein in his control and work as an effective big league starter.
More from the AL East to kick off the week…
- It’s already known that the Yankees interviewed former Cy Young winner and current YES Network Analyst David Cone for their pitching coach vacancy before hiring Matt Blake last November, but Cone talked more about the interview process and another potential role that was discussed in an interview with the New Jersey Star-Ledger’s Bob Klapisch. The pitching coach talks were “more exploratory” in nature, per Cone, but the two sides discussed a role in which he’d serve as a liaison between the club’s pitchers and the analytics department — utilizing his experience as a pitcher to help bridge the gap between data from the front office and implementation in a game setting. That role didn’t come together, clearly, but it’s nevertheless interesting both in a “what might’ve been” lens in addition to looking down the line at what could yet be in store if the two sides rekindle talks.
- Orioles righty Shawn Armstrong was considered a “sure thing” to make the bullpen heading into camp, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, and he did nothing to change that thinking with six shutout frames and 11 punchouts. Expanded rosters early in a potentially delayed season would only make it easier for the club to hang onto the right-hander. The 29-year-old Armstrong went from Cleveland to Seattle to Baltimore over the past couple of seasons but only this past year got a full look in the Majors. He struggled to an ERA just north of 5.00 in Baltimore but also averaged 9.9 K/9 with an overall 24.2 percent strikeout rate and elite spin on his four-seamer. His 2018 work with Seattle — 14 2/3 innings, 1.23 ERA, 15-to-3 K/BB ratio — lends some reason for optimism as well. Armstrong is out of minor league options, so the Orioles would have to run him through waivers if they wanted to send him down to Triple-A Norfolk.