Red Sox not ruling out Darwinzon Hernandez morphing into a starter

Rob Bradford
July 30, 2020 - 10:19 am

The Red Sox' starting rotation is a work in progress. So is Darwinzon Hernandez. That's why there is a chance the two worlds may collide somewhere down the line in this 2020 season.

It was a notion Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke mentioned in passing when appearing on OMF Wednesday.

"Eventually, we still think this guy could be a starter so we may try and stretch him out a little bit longer, see if we can get him two or three innings," Roenicke said. "Then who knows? Maybe he ends up being a starter at the end of this year. But we have to stretch him out first."

Hernandez certainly isn't going to be thrown into the rotation any time soon, with the lefty still coming back from his bout with COVID-19. In two days he will throw another live batting practice with a simulated game taking place in Pawtucket two days after that. Following that progression, the 23-year-old may be in the conversation to join the big-league club.

Still, it's an intriguing notion considering Hernandez's upside.

The hurler did have some issues during his only major league start, allowing four runs on three hits and five walks in the outing against the Rangers June 11 at Fenway Park. And some believe Hernandez's true calling will always be in the bullpen considering the short bursts and the simple reliance on stuff over gameplans.

"It’s still pretty far off," Roenicke later said regarding the move of Hernandez to the rotation. "So we’re not really talking about what we’re going to do with him yet. We want to get him to the point where we know physically he’s ready to start and come back with us. It may be to where we want him to be built up to at least two innings before he comes instead of one. But we’re not 100 percent on that either. It probably depends on what our needs are at the time and if we get better starting pitching we know we don’t need to cover the innings as much. But once that roster reduces we know the bullpen is going to be used more and hopefully, your starters are stretched out, they’re pitching better and it all works out."

Hernandez is considered a key element of the Red Sox pitching staff, having come off a rookie season in which he struck out 57 in just 30 1/3 innings.

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