Could Darwinzon Hernandez be a 5th starter? Kind of.

Rob Bradford
February 19, 2020 - 9:49 am

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Darwinzon Hernandez is an interesting piece the Red Sox' puzzle. After listening to Red Sox interim manager Ron Roenicke Tuesday the pitcher's existence only got more intriguing.

Hernandez is undoubtedly slated to start the season in the Red Sox' bullpen, a place he thrived in 2019. But one part of that job might include helping out starting games every fifth day. Yes, talk of Hernandez performing the role of an 'Opener' has been broached.

"I think when you continue to stretch him out and he does things, yes, he can do something like that," said Roenicke when asked if Hernandez could fill the role. "Kind of like (Ryan) Yarborough was with Tampa, something like that."

It's no accident that Yarborough's name was surfaced. Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom was part of the decision-making process when it came to using the 28-year-old in the capacity of an Opener. What happened with the Tampa pitcher, however, was that he ultimately morphed in a traditional starter at season's end, starting in his last nine appearances while averaging, pitching fewer than five innings just twice.

"We kind of know what we want to do," Roenicke said when it comes to Hernandez. "Where this leads, whatever, down the road, I don’t even want to say a time. But next year, a year after, I don’t know where that leads to. We’ll just plan on doing this for him like he was last year and then see where it goes."

The 23-year-old has picked up where he left off in terms of leaving an impression, opening eyes with his first live batting practice session Tuesday.

"He always looks impressive," Roenicke said of Hernandez, who appeared in 29 games in 2019. "He left a couple balls up on his breaking ball but his bullpens have been good and I thought he threw the ball well. Unfortunately we can’t match these up right with the hitters and I don’t think our hitters were too excited about being in there with Darwinzon. We had two left-handers and then J.D. and that makes it tough for those guys so they were just kind of tracking today. But Darwinzon threw well again."