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Hernandez draws comparisons with Hader

@IanMBrowne
September 7, 2019

BOSTON -- It is becoming clear that the Red Sox have an evolving dominator in their bullpen in the form of 22-year-old lefty Darwinzon Hernandez. And the comparison that new Red Sox righty and former Brewer Jhoulys Chacin has come up with is eye-opening. “He’s good, man. He reminds me

BOSTON -- It is becoming clear that the Red Sox have an evolving dominator in their bullpen in the form of 22-year-old lefty Darwinzon Hernandez.

And the comparison that new Red Sox righty and former Brewer Jhoulys Chacin has come up with is eye-opening.

“He’s good, man. He reminds me of [Josh] Hader,” said Chacin. “He throws that raised fastball that some guys just can’t catch up to. I’ve talked to him a lot since I’ve been here. I want him to stay healthy and keep doing what he’s doing.”

Chacin had the chance to observe Hader the last two seasons.

“Hader’s fastball just rises,” said Chacin. “To see him, his fastball does pretty much the same. Just stay healthy and take his approach every day to the field, and he can be a really good pitcher.”

Coming into 2019, Hernandez was considered a starting pitching prospect, but he had trouble with his command in that role in the Minors and was converted to relief at Triple-A Pawtucket on July 5.

Eleven days later, he started performing in that role for Boston. In his first 23 appearances (23 1/3 innings) as a reliever for the Red Sox, he has a 2.31 ERA, 43 strikeouts and an opponents’ batting average of .181.

The Red Sox haven’t committed to a role for Hernandez beyond this season, but the bullpen seems like a likely destination given the way he can affect a game in that role.

“That’s a good fastball. You start looking at the numbers, and there’s a lot of strikeouts by Darwinzon,” said manager Alex Cora. “He’s been doing a lot better job with his slider, but what Hader is doing in Milwaukee is pretty amazing. That’s a good start for him. We talk about it.”

The stuff is one thing, but Cora is as impressed by what is happening behind the scenes.

“I do believe just being around here and doing everything right throughout the day as far as preparation and all the things it takes to make a big leaguer, he’s doing it,” said Cora. “You talk to veterans, and they’re very happy with the way he goes about his business, and that’s very important. It’s a great compliment.

“Hader is one of the best, if not the best lefty reliever in the big leagues, and it’s something that I know Darwinzon isn’t going to get caught up in. He’s going to keep working, but if the fastball plays like that the rest of his career, we’ll take it. “

Odds slim, but Cora says Sox are hungry

According to Fangraphs, the odds of the Red Sox securing an AL Wild Card spot were down to 2.6 percent at the start of play on Saturday, but Cora appreciates his team’s effort level.

The Sox are 6-2-1 in their last nine series and have won 13 of their last 19 games.

“We know the odds are very slim,” Cora said. “It just happened that we didn’t play good baseball for a while, and we’ve been inconsistent. That’s baseball, but if you talk to the guys and they see it, whatever window we have, 8 percent or 2 percent or not a chance, they show up every day and they play. It’s been good. It’s been good for a while now.”

Cora doesn’t subscribe to the "World Series hangover" theory.

“We’ve been hungry the whole season,” he said. “I feel we’ve been hungry the whole time. There’s other teams that are hungry to win one. We’re hungry to win two, back to back. We’re the only team that can say that. I do feel that we haven’t played well. That’s it.

“But to question hunger and toughness and all that, I don’t know. You guys see them play every day. That’s not for me to judge. I know what I have in the clubhouse. I don’t think we’re hungrier now because we lost eight in a row [from late July to early August]. We were hungry in Spring Training, and we talked about being back-to-back champs. And we still talk about it, until somebody tells us, 'You guys can’t do it.'”

Red Sox help raise childhood cancer awareness

The Red Sox joined all of Major League Baseball on Saturday in helping to raise awareness of childhood cancer by having all on-field personnel, including players and coaches, wear gold ribbon decals and wristbands during their game against the Yankees.

Many children and families who have been affected by cancer took part in a pregame ceremony on the field at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox presented a check to the Jimmy Fund that represented all of the proceeds from the team’s annual Jimmy Fund radio-telethon on WEEI and NESN, which has raised $57 million over the last 18 years.

Red Sox chairman Tom Werner and infielder Brock Holt (the team’s Jimmy Fund captain) took part in the ceremony.

The ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Morgan Platt, a 15-year-old from Avon, Conn., who was diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer in 2011. Platt is now an advocate who helps promote awareness of pediatric cancer and research and fundraising for several charities.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.