We got an abbreviated look at the youngster in 2020, but the sample size was too small to come to any real conclusions.
However, in 2021, we’ve gotten a much better look at the him.
And based on his performance this season, the Royals might have a rising star on their hands.
It has been a forgettable season for Kansas City overall, but for a rebuilding team, player development is the most important thing.
Hernandez has given fans a reason to be optimistic.
Hernandez Started The Year As A Reliever Before Transitioning Into A Starting Role
Hernandez started the 2021 season in Kansas City’s bullpen.
Before he was eventually moved to the rotation, he made 12 appearances as a reliever.
And in those games, the results were iffy.
He posted a 4.98 ERA and .780 opponent OPS over 21.2 innings of work.
But when the 24-year-old got moved to the rotation in the middle of July, he turned things up a notch.
He has made 11 appearances since being named a starter.
Of those 11 appearances, 10 have been starts and one was a 5.2-inning relief outing.
He has pitched to a 3.51 ERA and .616 opponent OPS in the 11-game span.
His most recent start was a rough one, and if you take it out, then he has a 2.62 ERA over the span.
That’s worth getting excited over.
— Anne Rogers (@anne__rogers) August 5, 2021
He has allowed two runs or fewer in eight of the 11 outings, which is obviously fantastic.
Hernandez is under club control until 2027, so the Royals are going to reap the benefits of his growth for years to come.
It’s an exciting time for Kansas City.
We’ll Get Our Next Look At Hernandez On Friday
Hernandez is set to make one of his final starts of the 2021 season on Friday.
He’ll face the Detroit Tigers on the road.
This will be his third appearance against the Tigers this season.
Detroit has found its groove in the second half of the year, so this won’t be an easy matchup for Hernandez.
However, he hasn’t shied away from any challenge this season.
It’ll be very interesting to see how he bounces back after a rocky outing the last time out.
I always come away super impressed with Carlos Hernandez after he speaks, whether it's after a good outing or a bad one (tonight was the first bad one I've been there for postgame).
He's different. In a good way.
— Jordan Foote (@footenoted) September 16, 2021
If he gets another start after Friday, it’ll likely come against the Cleveland Indians next week.
With that in mind, let’s set some goals for his final one or two outings.
Realistic Goals For Hernandez’s Final 1 Or 2 Starts
Hernandez obviously wants to end his year on a high note.
What are some goals for his final one or two outings?
Well, for starters, it would be awesome for the youngster to finish the year with an ERA in the 3s.
He’s currently sitting at a 3.90 ERA, so he will need to hold steady over the final week of the season to keep it there.
In the grand scheme of things, the rookie’s ERA in a lost season for KC doesn’t really matter, but it would definitely be a nice accomplishment for him to finish with an attractive mark.
Beyond that, another solid goal for Hernandez would be to limit the free passes over his final one or two starts.
He has issued 3+ walks in each of his last three outings, and that’s something that he’ll want to eliminate going forward.
A lot of young pitchers struggle with command at times, and if Hernandez wants to separate himself as a top-notch youngster, that would be a good place to start.