Pedro Hernandez needs to be sent down to Rochester. The Minnesota Twins lefty earned his first win against the mighty Texas Rangers on April 27 and has yet to record an official loss, but the 23-year-old ultimately needs another stint in the minors.
Against the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday, Hernandez gave up a four-run lead in the first inning and was removed from the game after giving up six runs in two innings. The Twins ended up winning the game as a result of scoring 15 runs that night, but also had to use four pitchers out of the bullpen.
While the offense appears to be coming alive, the team is unlikely to win if their starters are giving up leads and forcing them to score more than six runs in the first two frames. You have to feel for Hernandez, whose family was burying his cousin back home in Venezuela while he made his start at Fenway Park.
“I was trying to do the best I can, but my head wasn't in the game today," Hernandez told the media through translator and outfielder Wilkin Ramirez. "I wasn't my best, because somebody I really love passed away two days ago." (via mlb.com)
If this performance was an anomaly, there would be no reason to send him down, but Hernandez has struggled all year long.
Acquired in the Francisco Liriano trade that also brought utility man Eduardo Escobar to Minnesota, Hernandez has yet to pitch six innings and has an ERA of 5.96. The lefty has given up 29 hits in 22.2 innings pitched and allowed 15 earned runs. Players are hitting .315 against him.
The two top candidates to replace Hernandez are Cole De Vries, who made 16 starts last season, and top prospect Kyle Gibson.
Mike Bernardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that De Vries, 28, is making progress in his rehab and is currently in Double-A New Britain. Coming off of a forearm injury, Minnesota should give him another look in the rotation. The St. Louis Park native went 3-0 with a 0.60 ERA in 17.0 innings played during spring training.
While exhibition numbers don’t mean much, De Vries finished strong last year with a 2-0 record and 0.71 ERA in September. Save for a brutal month of August where he went 1-3 with a 6.26 ERA, he finished 2012 respectably with a 5-5 record with a 4.11 ERA.
Gibson, 25, was on a fast track to the majors before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2011. Drafted No. 22 overall in 2009 out of the University of Missouri, Gibson reached Triple-A at age 22, but had to hit the reset button and started last season in the Rookie League .
He made his way back up to Triple A, but went 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA last year. He has been pitching better lately, going 2-4 with a 3.32 ERA and shutting out the Toledo Mudhens in a complete-game shutout.
“While Pedro Hernandez was getting beaten-up by the Boston Red Sox line-up, Kyle Gibson was showing he is ready to take his spot in the major league starting rotation,” writes Cody Christie over at Twins Daily. “It might have been Gibson's best start as a professional and it wouldn't be surprising if he makes his MLB debut within the next week.”
With an experienced starter and a top prospect in the waiting, the time is now to send Hernandez down. By no means should the team give up on the young southpaw, but he could use a little time in the minors at this point in his career.