Bruce Chen, LH Felix Hernandez, RH (11-9, 3.73) (3-2, 1.59)
Game time is 4:05 on WNUV and FSN Northwest. Again, I implore you to watch this one if you've got the chance. You only get to see a stud pitcher like Hernandez at all of (barely) 19 years old once in a blue moon.
Chen has been undeniably the best Orioles starter this season, which is quite a surprise. Remember when he was running for the fifth spot alongside Rick Bauer and other similar dregs?
But today is not quite about Chen, I'll be serious. I want to see Hernandez pitch. I want to see it so much that I'm going to pretty much ignore the season opening Lions game for it. Well, that and I like baseball much better than football, and for as bad as the Orioles are, the Lions are still the Lions.
Anyway, here's what you can expect from Hernandez, culled from various scouting reports and articles I've read recently and throughout the 2005 season.
He throws a fastball anywhere from 94 to 98, generally in the 96-97 range, and he throws strikes. He has a breaking ball (curve or slider, people seem to disagree; maybe it's a slurve?) and a change. He gets ahead of hitters and attacks. And he will strike people out.
Everyone is comparing him to a young Doc Gooden, and for as much of a sad footnote as Gooden's career turned out to be, that's still a compliment, because Gooden was absolutely dominant. And Hernandez has been no less than that in his very brief major league career. It is not easy to be 19 years old and pitch in the majors. We've seen 20-year old Hayden Penn's struggles with adjusting to this level.
That's the difference between a guy like Penn and a guy like Hernandez. Penn is a solid prospect. Hernandez is a phenom, a truly special talent. He may not end up having a great career, but the only thing stopping him there would be fate. Outside of injuries, scandal or just plain awful luck, I can't really see Hernandez not being one of the best starters in baseball for a long, long time. And this is the first time he'll face our Orioles. Consider this one a highlight of our stretch run.