When Roberto Hernandez was signed this offseason by the Rays, not much was truly expected of him. It was felt that he could be a veteran innings eater in the back of the rotation, someone that could potentially help keep the bullpen from being overworked as the Rays began to rely more upon their younger starters, such as Matt Moore and Alex Cobb. Seemingly, all that was asked was for Hernandez not to be overly terrible, while lasting six innings a start.
Yet, Hernandez has not really held up that end of the bargain. In his 23 starts, he has failed to last six innings in nine of them. Aside from the occasional solid performance, such as July 30th against the Diamondbacks or on May 29th against the Marlins, he has been generally mediocre at best. In fact, of his 23 starts, only ten of those would classify as a quality start.
Several factors have seemingly helped Hernandez retain his tenuous grasp on a spot in the rotation. Injuries to Moore and Cobb made it necessary for Hernandez to keep getting the ball, and Jake Odorizzi was not exactly impressive in his opportunity. At this point, Hernandez may be in the rotation simply because there may not be another option.
However, Cobb is back and Moore is close to returning, making Hernandez’s spot in the rotation even more in question. He also has not done himself any favors in terms of his performance. Not only does Hernandez have a rough 6-13 record with an ERA of 5.00 over the course of the year, but he has pitched a combined 14.1 innings in his last three starts. Over that time, he is 0-2 with an ERA of 7.54, having given up 23 hits and three home runs.
The Rays have already jettisoned players who were either harmful to their ability to win (Kyle Farnsworth) or were redundant on the roster (Ryan Roberts) despite their salaries. With the way that Hernandez has performed, and with Moore set to return soon, the Rays may not be finished in getting rid of players that just seemingly are unable to help them this season. It may also be possible that the Rays do not wait for Moore to be back, and either look to give Odorizzi another opportunity or bring Alex Colome back up for a spot start instead.
Roberto Hernandez’s days with the Rays are seemingly numbered. Performances, like the ones he has put up over the last three starts, have certainly not helped his cause. It may not be a matter of if, but when, will Hernandez be sent packing at this point.