What a difference two months make. Reliever Carlos Hernandez was the talk of the Royals trade deadline, dividing fans on whether the team should move the fireballer after a decent summer showing. The wheels have fallen off since the trade deadline though and Hernandez's three earned runs allowed in a 1/3 inning against the Detroit Tigers is a new low.
It seemed like Hernandez had turned a corner to start this season. His fastball velocity reached new heights, averaging 99.1 MPH on a pitch he throws 55% of the time. That ranks in the 99th percentile, according to Baseball Savant. That fastball gaining new life led to Hernandez's secondary pitches performing better as well. After the Royals moved on from Aroldis Chapman and Scott Barlow, Hernandez seemed first in line to become the team's new closer.
Hernandez has been everything but that for most of his appearances since the trade deadline. Since Aug. 7, Hernandez has had 13 2/3 innings, while giving up 16 earned runs, walking 13 batters and only striking out 11, racking up an 8.52 fielding independent pitching (FIP) mark. Hardly what the Royals want out of any member of their bullpen, much less a potential closer.
It is always easier to judge whether a team should or shouldn't have traded a player in hindsight. I was fine with the Royals holding Hernandez at the trade deadline. He had an elite 2.62 FIP, .84 WHIP, and strong strikeout numbers from June 1 through July 31 this season.
The Royals do not have to move on from Hernandez this offseason. He is cheap and has the talent and familiarity in Kansas City. This is a want more for the fanbase. The rough stretches this season and last had eroded a ton of trust in Hernandez on the mound. The Royals have several other relievers who could step up next season. If a team comes knocking for Hernandez with a decent deal, the Royals should mercifully move on