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May 21, 2010

Did David Hernandez do enough Friday to keep his rotation spot?

David Hernandez knew he had to perform well on Friday night against the Washington Nationals to save his rotation spot.

Chris Tillman and Jake Arrieta are banging on the rotation door from down in Norfolk. And, heading into Friday, Hernandez hadn’t won since last August.

We saw the good and bad of Hernandez against the Nats. He was nearly unhittable. In fact, he was unhittable against actual hitters. The only hit he allowed in 5 1/3 innings was to reliever Miguel Batista.

But he lasted only 5 1/3 because Hernandez walked five batters and pushed his pitch count up to 105. And he only threw 59 strikes.

Hernandez has a mid-90s fastball and a solid changeup. But he needs to throw strikes consistently. That inability is what has his ERA at 5.31 this season.

There is a contingent that wants Hernandez to be moved into the bullpen and for the club to promote Tillman or Arrieta. I think that’s eventually what will happen.

But the Orioles would prefer to have Hernandez, only 25, pitch well as a starter while Tillman and Arrieta keep honing their craft in the minors. The hope is that three quality starters emerge from the logjam and not one/two and one middle reliever.

I asked manager Dave Trembley Friday night if Hernandez did what he needed to keep his spot. Trembley’s response: “He helped his cause tremendously.”

Now I am asking you.

Daily Think Special: Did David Hernandez do enough Friday to keep his rotation spot?

Posted by Dan Connolly at 11:52 PM | | Comments (24)
Categories: Connolly's Corner Sports Bar



I think Hernandez deserves to stay for another start or two. Its not as though bringing up Tillman or Arrieta is likely to save the season and Hernandez deserves a chance to try for a couple more quality starts. He does need to work on his control, however, and maybe some time at Norfolk will help him do that

How can you not run him out there one more time at least. He had a no hitter through 5 and got his first win. I'd run him out one more time but he better win or pitch the other starter pitch for pitch. I'm itchin to see some better talent.

You only answer "yes" to this question if you are looking at the short-term. The O's need a plan. The big picture says that both Arrieta and Tillman will be starters here for the long-term. Tillman is ready. I was mistakenly under the impression that is why he was here last year . . . to become a full-time starter this year. But, no our genious manager forgot about the plan in spring training and became enamored with David Hernandez, who anyone with half a brain can see is best suited for the bullpen.

With a split in the two remaining games of this series the O's will reach the coveted .333 mark for the second time this season. That's a sure sign of a team that should focus on the short-term and not the big picture. That last sentence was sarcasm, for anyone who didn't get it!

YES, but I would like them to lock every ypung starter in the orgaization in a room for a week and make them watch videos of Scott Mcgregor pitching complete games of 65 to 90 pitches and see if they can learn anything.... Unless it convinces someone to come up with an offer of a power hitting 1B prospect blocked somewhere else or a likewise top SS prospect.. Now would be an excellent time for someone to try to get a good young pitcher..

YES he deserves more chances, if I remember correctly he pitched well enough to win before but for the BP. Just a wishful thought Guzman on the nationals was a guy I was really wishing they had pursued when they put a younger SS there. Wouldn't his stats look good in orange and black..

Yes, he should stay as the number 5 starter a while longer because he has pitched well in other starts this season before tonight but much like other starters for the Orioles he has gotten no run support. I look forward to seeing Tillman and Arrieta pitching for the O's as much as the next fan. I see no difference in them coming up to the majors now, pitching well and losing due to lack of run support, over Hernandez. If they get better in the minors and Hernandez learns to controls his pitches better in the majors (as he has already improved over last year) they would then have 3 young starting pitchers to pair up with Guthrie who has looked more like himself of late, then at anytime last year and another young arm Matusz (who has recently pitched no better then Hernandez, but his name is not mentioned in talks of returning to the minors).

DH should definitely be in the rotation. Millwood is not part of the future, and Guthrie probably shouldn't be as well. Hernandez would probably be a shut-down closer, but maybe Erbe can fill that role.

It seems to me that a lot of Hernandez's struggles stem from poor pitch selection.

I did not know his job was in jeopardy. Was it?

Either way, Hernandez is not going to be a major league starter or reliever if he does not do a better job of throwing STRIKES.
He would be a terrible relief guy right now because he cannot throw STRIKES.
I would leave Tillman and Arrieta right where they are....let them continue to have some success for a while.

Hernandez has a better ERA than the #5 starter on the Yankees, Blue Jays, or Red Sox. If he can continue to pitch 5+ innings with an ERA just over 5.00, he's fine as a #5 starter. He will be inconsistent, but that's what those guys do. Let Tillman and Arrieta hone their craft so they can be better than #5s when they come up. Trading Guthrie and Millwood for young position players and replacing them with Tilmman and Arrieta is much more important to the future of this team than moving Hernandez to the bullpen.

btw - The capchas used on this blog are almost impossible to decipher. Several times my posts have been lost because I've typed in the wrong thing. People might respond more if the captcha was less of a barrier.

For at least one more game.

On a related note, can you imagine the discussion if Hernandez hadn't given up that hit to Batista? He'd still have come out of the game no later than the end of the sixth. I was hoping for one of those multi-pitcher no-hitters like the one Milacki started that was finished by Flanagan, Williamson, and Olson. Then I remembered who the Orioles have in the bullpen now and didn't think there were three guys who could pitch a hitless inning apiece.

I'm not knowledgeable enough about alternatives to Hernandez in the O's organization. The answer to the question: 'Who would be the best 5th starter now? may not have the same answer as the question 'Who should pitch now in the 5th spot in the rotation?' Developmental issues confuse the issue.

Another interesting question that I can anawer is: Do I intend to watch Hernandez pitch again? The answer is 'No.' Who wants to spend the time and energy to watch a game that goes on for almost 3 1/2 hours when there is so little action. Toss in an Oriole caught in another base running mistake and I'm going to find something elee to do.

I see no reason why he can't stay at the back end of the rotation as a "project". The team is 3-5 in his starts, and that's not bad for a #5 starter.

There's no point in rushing Arrieta or Tillman -- it's not like they would be the difference between winning and losing. And let's face it, this organization has a terrible reputation for pushing pitchers into the big leagues to soon (dating back to the Ben McDonald days!).

Furthermore, if Tillman/Arrieta are in a position to come to the bigs, they should be added to the bullpen. I don't understand the conventional Oriole philosophy that says a rookie pitcher must be added to the rotation. Put him in the bullpen for a stretch, let him get a feel for what it means to be in the bigs. Why thrust them into a starting role immediately, especially when the 'pen needs more help than the rotation? Especially if one or more relievers are traded mid-season.

I say let Hernandez continue to pitch every five days, and see how it plays out. He can always be moved to the 'pen at a later time, maybe swapped with Arrieta or Tillman after they've had some time to get comfortable in the major leagues by pitching some relief.

Looming trades may also affect where the O's use Hernandez and his arm.

If you remember last year, Berken, Hernandez, Tillman and Matusz were all called to the majors much earlier than expected because of pitching injuries or very poor pitching performances. This year the starting pitching is acceptable but the relief pitching has been impacted by
injuries(and some poor performances). I think all the starters should keep their
spots in the rotation until the end of June.

Then Oriole management can re-evaluate the team when the trading season begins. Some key players(Johnson, Gonzalez, Atkins and Roberts) were expected to heavily contribute this season and haven't so far. Hernandez nor any of other starters should not lose their rotation spots. Under the circumstances, you can't assume Arieta or Tillman would do better. Do you want to bring them up early just to become losers?

I think you've got to give him a chance to work on some things - throwsing strikes, for starters. Tillman and Arrietta wil be up soon enough, and they're not the difference between this team being competitive or not competitive.

I think Hernandez ultimately ends up in long relief, but give him a chance to prove me wrong.

btw, my captcha = 'manlier reporters' ... take that for what its worth, Connolly :)

Arrietta might be ready but I see no clear advantage to moving him up now instead of another 4 weeks to be sure.. Tillman is still having some erractic ups and downs and needs a little more consistensy and command of the strike zone before he comes back up.. Heanandez could become a reliever or trade bait but we already have one who can't throw strikes and no command in the strike zone..


I don't think the Orioles would win anymore games if Arieta and/or Tillman were brought up to the majors right now. Consider the fact that Oriole management have had to replace the 2nd baseman, the closer, the setup man, the 1st baseman and lastly the left fielder. Let Arieta and Tillman them be part of a winning team at Norfolk. They should be an important part of a winning future for the organization. The starting pitching hasn't been the problem.

Hernandez would be best in the bullpen. Hopefully he can take to the role as well as Berken did. Ultimately, maybe we could let Albers go. This guy has been around a long time and we all keep hoping he'll figure it out but he hasn't yet and it's beginning to look like he never will. He has two pitches: an average fastball/sinker and a below average slider. Unfortunately, we can't afford to let him go because we don't really have any other options. Let's hope Hernandez will be that option sooner than later.

I'm in the minoirty here. One decent start against a below average team does not atone for several poor starts. David H. won the job in spring trianing, and then did nothing to keep it. I agree with Jeff Z. that he belongs in the bullpen. Tilman had nothing left to prove ar AAA; let him hone his skills in the majors. It's not like we're contending or anything.


Fernandez belongs in the pen. Spillman and Henrietta belong in the rotation as soon as we trade Millsap and Guthridge.

Another Dos Equis please....hiccup.

Off-topic post: Two ex-Pirate relief pitchers were available as free agents last winter. We took Gonzo, who has one save and is on the DL. Matt Capps is perfect in 16 save attempts. Why do these things always happen to the Os?

I think David has pitched well enough to stay in the rotation. With even modest run support he could easily have a .500 record. I also think he will continue to improve, That said, I'm not sure he ever reigns in the high pitch counts so the bullpen he may the best spot for him. He reminds me a lot of Sid Fernandez and I always thought the Mets could have used him in the pen, because he was dominant, but could never make it to the 7th inning.

I agree though that it would be nice to give Tillman and Arrietta more time, but maybe with Koji going down AGAIN, the time for this move has come.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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