The MLB offseason has just begun and the Red Sox already have their closer as they continue to rebuild. They just don’t know it yet. It’s no secret that Boston put together a horrendous bullpen in 2020. The good news is part of the solution already exists on the roster. Meet Darwinzon Hernandez: The future closer of the Boston Red Sox.
There have been questions on how the Sox will fix their bullpen. Part of the solution starts with Hernandez. No, the hard throwing lefty is not perfect but he has star potential written all over him. Mostly because he misses bats at a historic rate.
In 2019, Hernandez posted a K per 9 rate of 16.9. No pitcher in the history of baseball has ever done that except for Aroldis Chapman. In 2019 when Hernandez was first called up, he notched 57 Ks in only 30.1 innings. Sure, it’s a short sample size but Hernandez’s stuff is nasty.
In 2020, Hernandez was able to cut his ERA down to 2.16 from 4.45 as a rookie. Again, it was a short sample size. The Venezuelan born southpaw is a three-pitch pitcher ranking near the top of the leaderboard in slider and curveball spin rate. He’s a tough guy to pick up on at the plate.
There has been talk about whether to start or keep Hernandez in the bullpen. You never want to pigeon hole someone but the bullpen suits Darwinzon. His fastball plays up and he only really is a two-pitch guy. His curveball is rarely featured.
The downside with Hernandez has always been the same. He lacks control. Sometimes he can’t hit the broad side of a barn and that may be an understatement. His career walk per 9 rate is a disgusting 7.9 and no, disgusting is not good in this instance.
During his little time in the big leagues, Hernandez has been effectively wild. It’s no secret the walk numbers need to come down but I’ll take that problem. Hernandez can learn how to pitch and hit corners. What he can’t learn is the God-given talent that he possesses.
Let’s also not pretend that Craig Kimbrel and Brandon Workman didn’t have the same issue. Aroldis Chapman walks guys all the time. Workman especially had a 5.3 walk per 9 rate and still managed to have an ERA of 1.88.
With someone that can throw a slider like this, you go play. Hernandez is posting historic strikeout numbers and remains one of the best kept secrets in baseball. If the walk rates come down, you could be looking at one of the best relievers in the entire sport.
Remember the name Darwinzon Hernandez. I don’t know if Boston views Hernandez as their future closer but they should.