It’s no secret that the Houston Astros could use some help in their rotation, with everyone outside of Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh combining for a 3-9 record along with a dreadful 5.93 ERA. A big part of the problem has been the fifth spot in the rotation having been vacated for over two weeks, leaving Sam Deduno to fill in, which has also caused the bullpen to operate without a long reliever. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Roberto Hernandez is proving to be a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter with Houston this season.
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While Hernandez’ 1-3 record is unimpressive, his 3.86 ERA is below the American League average of 4.05. So why the lousy record? Tough luck, mostly. In his worst start of the season, last Sunday against Seattle, he allowed four earned on eight hits and two walks over six innings–and the team won the game 7-6. One of his better starts was his first of the season in Texas, where he lasted just 4 2/3 innings but allowed just one earned. The problem was that there was another four unearned runs that were scored and he gathered the loss in the effort.
The team is 2-4 when Hernandez starts, but he Astros have scored 21 runs in his two wins, while only pushing seven across the plate in the four losses. He’s allowed four earned runs once, three runs on three occasions, and single outings of one and two runs. Outside of that first tough-luck start, Hernandez has gone at least six innings, and Friday night went the full eight against the Halos. He’s going deep into ballgames, which is saving the bullpen. The silver lining of the losses now may be that the bullpen hasn’t been taxed quite as much between Hernandez, Keuchel and McHugh’s frequently solid outings.
While he isn’t lights-out on the mound, he is providing solid effort and the bats and gloves are not giving him enough support. That said, baseball is cyclical, and much like the game he started in Seattle, sometimes you win one that wasn’t your best effort. Friday night Jered Weaver was on his game, and nobody was going to get a run off of him. It happens. But for Roberto Hernandez this season, it has been happening more frequently.