Miami Marlins: Breaking Down Elieser Hernandez’s First Start

MIAMI, FL - MAY 13: Elieser Hernandez #57 of the Miami Marlins pitches in the ninth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Park on May 13, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - MAY 13: Elieser Hernandez #57 of the Miami Marlins pitches in the ninth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Park on May 13, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

A good start by Elieser Hernandez, J.T. Realmuto and Justin Bour home runs, Mattingly piecing together the bullpen and some timely hitting led to a 6-5 Marlins win over the Dodgers. 

Realmuto hit his sixth, and Bour went yard for the ninth time. With that being said, the star of the night was spot starter, Elieser Hernandez. While it is yet to be seen if Hernandez will be a part of the Miami Marlins starting staff down the line, his first impression was a good one.

As the youngest pitcher to start a game for the Marlins since Jose Fernandez, Hernandez tossed five quality innings with two strikeouts and three hits. The only blemish on the night was a solo shot off of the bat of Yasmani Grandal.

The 23-year-old originally came to the Marlins via the Rule 5 Draft where he was selected with the tenth overall pick by Miami from the Houston Astros. Prior to 2018, Hernandez had never pitched above High-A with the Astros where he worked as a starter and out of the pen.

In his first two appearances for the Fish, Hernandez worked in relief, pitching three innings and allowing one run to score. The Marlins moved Hernandez to the rotation to break up the lefties Caleb Smith and Wei-Yin Chen and also to move Jarlin Garcia to the bullpen in order to manage his workload.

On The Night

Hernandez does not have electric stuff, but against the Dodgers, he was very effective. He used a running two-seam fastball at 90-93 MPH as a primary pitch. He also relied on his change up regularly and featured a slider a handful of times.

The biggest positive that Hernandez displayed was his ability to consistently attack hitters. This had the Dodgers making a lot of weak contact through his five innings.

Hernandez’s control on the night was impressive. He found success in painting the outside corner, then occasionally running fastballs inside on right-handed hitters.

Pitch Mix

He played his change up off of his fastball very well. Hernandez throws the two pitches from the same arm slot which makes differentiating between them a tough task for hitters.

Although his fastball only gets up to 93 MPH, he is able to throw it at the top of the zone when it is coming off of his change up. He collected a couple swings and misses on fastballs up in the ballgame, including one on a strikeout of Chris Taylor.

Hernandez shows a real feel for both pitches.  He was able to add and subtract with ease throughout his start. This led to the Dodgers hitters being off-balance for the first five innings.

At times, this helped Hernandez make up for poor location. In Justin Turner’s second at-bat, he got away with a center-cut change up that he was out in front on due to the variation in velocity. Turner ended up hitting a lazy fly ball on the pitch which led to an easy out.

Hernandez’s slider is still developing as it is currently the third pitch in his arsenal. He doesn’t have much confidence in it and at times it backs up when he is trying to bury it low and away. One such pitch led to a hard hit Turner single in the first inning.

While he only threw a few sliders, he did throw a backdoor slider on the lower-outer black to a lefty that was particularly impressive.

The Mistake

While Hernandez was not perfect on the night, as he did walk one batter and throw a few pitches over the center of the plate. One pitch, in particular, was taken advantage of. It was a fourth-inning fastball, right down the middle of the plate that Yasmani Grandal deposited over 400 feet away for a solo shot.

While this did ruin a shutout, the home run was just an example of a veteran hitter taking advantage of a young pitcher’s mistake in location. Hernandez will be able to learn from like this as it is the only way that he will improve.

Overall Outlook for the Miami Marlins

After watching Hernandez’s first start, you can see why the Miami Marlins were high on the young righty. While he may lack electric stuff, Hernandez shows a real feel for pitching.

He was able to consistently repeat his mechanics and keep his arm slot the same. He was efficient with his pitches and went right after some very talented Dodger bats.

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His fastball-change combination both have heavy arm side run which hitters will continue to beat into the ground. However, much of Hernandez’s future success will depend on if he can develop a consistent third pitch.

If Hernandez can develop a consistent put away breaking ball, it will help the young righty get out of jams when needed. As of now, Hernandez does not have that go to pitch that he can generate swings and misses. This is evidenced by his three strikeouts in his eight major league innings so far.

The Rule 5 pick seems to have been a good selection early on. While he is still raw, he shows potential and has already had results at the major league level. Now, it is time to see if Hernandez can turn his potential into true ability.

Next: Marlins Defeat Dodgers on REAL good hitting

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