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Analyzing the Return of Roberto Hernandez


Considering the season is pretty much in the tank barring an epic collapse or two by their division-mates, there’s not much to be excited about with the Cleveland Indians anymore. But in the rubber match against the Los Angeles Angels we got to see the return of a man we thought we all knew, Roberto Hernandez. Of course he was Fausto Carmona back when we thought we knew him, but he’s still the same guy on the hill we’ve watched, hoped for and been frustrated by since 2007.

Having shaken the false identity rap, Hernandez got the start against the Angels, and lucky for him he only had to face one .300 hitter in the whole lineup. Of course, that guy is MVP candidate Mike Trout and there’s also Mark Trumbo, Torii Hunter, Kendrys Morales and Vernon Wells to contend with, and they’re fifth in runs and third in OPS. (That right there is a nice little primer on how deceiving batting average is.) First baseman Albert Pujols got the night off, so Roberto dodged a bullet there because that dude is hot right now, like Zoolander‘s Hansel but real.

Hernandez looked good, though his being 31 makes a lot more sense once you get a good look at him. Moved with ease, sweated like a beer in the sun and looked every bit the pitcher we remember. He allegedly lost some weight and is in the best shape of his life, so that’s nice. This game though, what a bizarro-fest.

It started off well enough. The Indians didn’t get anything done in the top of the first, then Hernandez got three groundouts for a 1-2-3 inning and had good velocity in his first inning out. His fastball and sinker were sitting around 92 early and hung around there with sick movement at times. (His sweating got ridiculous, by the third inning he needed a new hat. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever worn a baseball cap, but it’s not easy to completely soak one, and his was dripping wet.)

The second inning, though, was a bit of a mess. Kendrys Morales singled through the shift, a rocket on a changeup that was too up after Hernandez threw four straight to him. Roberto either continued to swagger or galumph about, depending on your opinion of him, then he gave Mark Trumbo a nice one to hit and he did. One of the Hernandez’ greatest talents when he was Fausto was his ability to leave a sinker up in the zone, and on that single he showed it.

He’d have gotten out of this relatively unscathed, but a wild pitch moved guys up and an Alberto Callaspo single scored the first. The whole series of events was a little too reminiscent of last year, that as the biggest problem. Brent Lillibridge muffed a sure double play ball a batter later, then Maicer Izturis got on base with a bunt that nobody could field—when you have Carlos Santana at first and Roberto Hernandez pitching, the defense on bunts is going to suffer.

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The Angels scored five in that second inning, batting around and taking advantage of a host of errors. A Mike Trout steal with a man on third led to a bad throw by Santana then another bad one by Lillibridge, something like two errors on one play. Then, in that same at-bat, both Santana and Hernandez thought the second strike was the third and started to walk away. Basically the Indians played like it was their first game ever. Morales even had an infield single because Jack Hannahan was backed up on the grass and Hernandez was too slow to get it.

All in all Hernandez wasn’t that bad, just unlucky. It’s hard to figure out how he made it through six innings, but he did need the work and it’s not like this is a pennant race anymore. He threw 91 pitches, (59 for strikes) and 55 of them were sinkers and only two fastballs. The rest were sliders and changeups, 17 each. He stuck to his bread and butter because if that sinker isn’t working, nothing is. If not for the errors, lucky bounces and seeing-eye singles he could have finished with three or four runs on the board instead of seven. He gave up homers to Trout and Chris Iannetta, but the latter is excusable. Trout’s nasty.

So the Indians have another pitcher, that’s the long and short of it. He didn’t walk anyone and had some bad luck, and got hit pretty hard. But he can’t be any worse than Josh Tomlin.

What will Roberto Hernandez' 2012 ERA be?

  • 5.00 (32%, 8 Votes)
  • 5.50 or worse (24%, 6 Votes)
  • 3.50 or better (20%, 5 Votes)
  • 4.00 (12%, 3 Votes)
  • 4.50 (12%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 25

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Tags: Cleveland Indians Fausto Carmona Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim Mike Trout Roberto Hernandez