Roberto Hernandez Wins Rotation Spot | The Process Report

Roberto Hernandez Wins Rotation Spot

Roberto Hernandez will be in the rotation and Jeff Niemann will be in the bullpen, according to Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune.

Portraying the Hernandez-Niemann decision as a choice between upside maximization and risk minimization feels off. It implies Niemann’s beta is low, which is a stretch due to a lengthy injury history that includes the holy trinity of pitcher sore spots: elbow, back, and shoulder. Additionally—or perhaps because of those injuries—Niemann’s velocity has been in the mid-to-upper-80s. Niemann does own a superior statistical track record, however, it’s fair to wonder whether Niemann and his reduced arm strength would be able to replicate those results. It’s also fair to wonder if Niemann, who was shut down with a shoulder issue last September, will ever recover his velocity.

Of course a reduced Niemann might top a whole Hernandez in the eyes of some. Those skeptical of Hernandez’s ability to hold onto a rotation spot should take solace in the organizational depth. If Hernandez were to scuffle the Rays have a number of choices to replace him with, including possibly Niemann. Chris Archer (changeup, command) and Jake Odorizzi (command) have kinks of their own to straighten out in Durham, but it wouldn’t be out of the question for either one to claim a rotation spot before the season’s end due to injury or ineffectiveness. Lest we forget Alex Cobb began last season in Durham before Niemann went down with a broken leg.

Odds are the fierceness of the debates following the decision to go with Hernandez will eclipse the disparity between the two pitchers. Hernandez, for all his faults as a pitcher, does have good stuff and should find the Rays elite infield defense welcoming. Factor in a strong support staff and Tampa Bay is a good place to start if Hernandez wants to pen a successful second act to his career. For all the variables involved, one thing is clear: The Rays, at least for the time being, prefer Hernandez.



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  1. […] When Roberto Hernandez beat Jeff Niemann out for a rotation spot I wrote this: […]

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