The Edge of the Marlins Rotation: Elieser Hernandez

JUPITER, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 23: Elieser Hernandez #57 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch during the spring training game against the Washington Nationals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on February 23, 2020 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
JUPITER, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 23: Elieser Hernandez #57 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch during the spring training game against the Washington Nationals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on February 23, 2020 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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As one of many hopefuls for the number five rotation spot this spring, Elieser Hernandez has a lot to prove.

Elieser Alexis Hernandez is a six-foot, 210 lb. right-handed pitcher from Ocumare Del Tuy, VZ. Now 24-years-old, Hernandez will turn 25 in May and is entering his third season with the Miami Marlins.

After six seasons in the Houston Astros minor league system to start his career, Hernandez had never appeared above the High-A level. In 2017, he was 4-5 with a 3.98 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 63 1/3 inning, along with a 1.20 WHIP pitching in the Carolina League with the Buies Creek Astros.

In the new ownership group’s first rule 5 draft, in December 2017, Hernandez was picked up from the Astros.

For those uninformed, players chosen in the major league portion of the annual rule 5 draft are required to remain on the big league roster through the duration of the season, aside from time on the injured list and associated rehab starts.

Miami Marlins
JUPITER, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 23: Elieser Hernandez #57 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch during the spring training game against the Washington Nationals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on February 23, 2020 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

And that’s just what happened to Hernandez. As 2018 Spring Training drew to a close, Hernandez was placed on the injured list with an infected tooth. After four rehab appearances, two each at High-A and Double-A, he joined the Marlins for his major league debut on May 10th. He pitched two scoreless innings in relief in a 9-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

Through the season, Hernandez was 2-7 with a 5.21 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings. He posted a 1.447 WHIP and racked up a 74 ERA+, starting in six of his 32 appearances overall.

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Hernandez saw his workload increase to 82 1/3 innings for the Miami Marlins in 2019. He struck out over a batter per inning, with 85 K’s in 82 1/3 innings, and produced a 1.239 WHIP, an 84 ERA+, a 3-5 record and a 5.03 ERA.

Hernandez started 15 times and appeared in relief in six games through 2019, with some very stark splits between the two roles. In his starts, he put up a 1.165 WHIP and a 4.58 ERA. By contrast, he had a 1.957 WHIP and a 9.39 ERA in relief. Using those stats, it’s plain to see why Hernandez shouldn’t be considered for a spot in the bullpen. The Miami Marlins should be trying to see if Hernandez is one of the five best starting pitchers on the team, and if he is not, they should not use him out of the bullpen.

In four Spring Training innings thus far this season, Hernandez has surrendered five runs on four hits and three walks while striking out three batters. He’ll need to improve that line if the Marlins are to give him a third season with the parent club.

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