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Marlins finally send down Elieser Hernandez

Hernandez forced the Marlins’ hand by showing no indications of turning around his horrendous 2022 season.

Starting pitcher Elieser Hernandez #57 of the Miami Marlins walks to the dugout after being removed by manager Don Mattingly in the sixth inning of the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on May 09, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Marlins allowed a season-high 15 runs on Friday. The pitcher responsible for most of that damage, Elieser Hernandez, has finally reached the end of his leash. The Marlins optioned Hernandez to Triple-A Jacksonville prior to Saturday’s game. Left-hander Braxton Garrett is expected to take his spot in the starting rotation.

There’s not much else to say about Hernandez that hasn’t already been said. Despite an adequate back-end starter track record, I had doubts about him sustaining it entering 2022. His underwhelming pure stuff and imprecise pitch location made him inherently vulnerable to home runs. However, the Marlins steadfastly supported him, even as better internal rotation options emerged like prospects Max Meyer and Edward Cabrera—Cabrera has since taken over another vacant rotation spot, while Meyer is on the mend from a minor injury (ulnar nerve irritation).

In 11 appearances (nine starts) this season, Hernandez posted a 6.75 ERA, 7.25 FIP and .274 BAA. He has faced 218 batters, the third-highest total on the Marlins behind only Sandy Alcantara and Pablo López. The Marlins have lost each of the last seven games that Hernandez has pitched in. He’s earning a $1.325 million salary in his first year of arbitration eligibility.

Garrett, Miami’s first-round pick from the 2016 MLB Draft, has been limited to 26 innings at Triple-A this season due to a shoulder impingement. In 23 starts for the Jumbo Shrimp dating back to 2021, he’s had a 3.71 ERA, 4.17 FIP and .220 BAA (111.2 IP). His upcoming start will cause him to graduate from my Marlins top prospects list (ranked 27th).

Despite his prospect pedigree, Garrett has some unfortunate similarities to Hernandez. In addition to durability concerns, his fastball’s below-average velocity and command leaves him with limited margin for error. The Alabama native has made 10 previous appearances (nine starts) in The Show, delivering a 5.18 ERA, 5.07 FIP and .311 BAA (41.2 IP).

Here are examples of each of Garrett’s pitches from a start against the Charlotte Knights (White Sox affiliate) on April 26:

The 24-year-old is being thrown into the fire here, lined up to face the Giants on Sunday, followed by road starts against the mighty Astros and Mets. But the Marlins are thin on decent alternatives until their other arms get healthy/stretched out again.