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Jose Hernandez Brings New Meaning to ’13th Pitcher’



Pittsburgh Pirates, Jose Hernandez, Henry Davis

For all intents and purposes, Jose Hernandez is the 13th pitcher on the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 26-man roster.

It’s not to say he’s the least talented. The left-hander has shown he’s more than capable of getting outs at the major league-level.

Yet in the very early parts of the season, Hernandez has had to change course more than once.

Hernandez was not going to make the Pirates’ opening day roster but found himself in Miami for the season opener when Roansy Contreras was placed on the paternity list.

The 26-year-old Hernandez was instantly put in crucial spot in the Pirates’ first game of the season. With a scheduled day off for David Bednar, who has been building up after a lat injury kept him out for the majority of spring training, Hernandez was tasked with preserving a one-run lead in the 12th inning against the Marlins.

Not only that, but it was the first save opportunity for Hernandez in the big leagues.

You never would have guessed that was the case. Hernandez was completely unfazed by the bright lights and threw a 1-2-3 inning. Not even the automatic runner starting on second base reached home.

Hernandez made one more appearance before he was sent to Triple-A Indianapolis once Contreras returned to the Pirates.

It wouldn’t be a lengthy stay for Hernandez in Indianapolis.

One week after he was optioned, the Pirates recalled Hernandez to take Ryan Borucki’s spot in the bullpen. Borucki was placed on the 15-day injured list prior to the Pirates’ win over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.

Once again, Hernandez was handed the ball in a tight game in the game’s final stages.

The Pirates were trailing the Orioles 2-1 in the eighth when manager Derek Shelton signaled to the bullpen to bring in a left-hander to face the top of Baltimore’s impressive lineup. Trotting in from the bullpen gate in left-center field at PNC Park was Hernandez.

Not even 10 hours before he entered the game, Hernandez was scheduled for a 6 a.m. flight that got delayed in Detroit, causing even more strain.

Hernandez did everything the Pirates could have hoped for and more given the situation. The lefty threw 1.1 scoreless innings with a pair of strikeouts. More importantly, he kept the Pirates in the game.

“It has been a lot in a short time,” Hernandez said. “As soon as I got on that plane, I knew what was in front of me.”

In the bottom of the ninth inning, the Pirates put together a rally and came through with a walk-off win on a throwing error committed by Orioles shortstop Gunnar Henderson.

Hernandez was credited with the win as he was the last Pirates’ pitcher to throw a pitch before the Pirates prevailed.

It was fitting for Hernandez given everything he’s dealt with this season, plus the chaos he went through in the hours leading up to his arrival to the stadium.

For someone who wasn’t even supposed to be in Pittsburgh yet, Hernandez has added a save and his second win as a major-leaguer. Both came in big spots to help carry his team to a win.

Not too shabby.

“There’s not a lot that fazes this kid,” said Shelton. “We’re talking about a Rule 5 pick that was here all year last year and went through some ups and downs but the one thing I can say about him is he’s always prepared and he’s not scared.”

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