It has been a long and bumpy road for Fausto Carmona. Once upon a time he was 4th in the voting for the American League Cy Young. Before that he illegally changed his name and age to make himself more likely to be signed by a Major League team. After many struggles in the majors (and minors) and a short prison sentence ended with community service, Carmona is back, this time using his real name of Roberto Hernandez. Now, three years older than previously though, Hernandez will be looking to make a comeback and the question remains, can he still pitch?
The Indians have had no short list of troubles with their starting rotation and will gladly welcome anyone who could throw 6 innings per game and keep an ERA under 4.00. Whether Hernandez can do that or not is extremely doubtful. After his struggles and return to the minors in both 2008 and 2009, Carmona had a pretty good 2010. Good enough to be an All-Star at least. He regressed in 2011, putting up what could have been considered his worst season in his career as he lost 15 games and posted a 5.25 ERA over 32 starts. Roberto hasn't faced Major League hitting since the end of that season and will not get a chance to face a true big league team until his return on August 11th.
Until then Roberto Hernandez will be undergoing his 3 week suspension that is well deserved and well needed. It will give him time to pitch against professional baseball players in game situations instead of the batting practice he was throwing in the Indians Dominican Republic training facility. The Indians front office wants to keep a close eye on him, so he will likely start for Lake County and move up through the system as he makes 4 to 5 starts in the Indians minor league system. He should have to make at least one start at AA and two at AAA before he is deemed ready.
Once his suspension is served and his sinker is sinking there will certainly be a spot in the rotation for him. If the Indians think with their heads rather than their wallets he will replace Derek Lowe in the rotation rather than the expected Josh Tomlin. Lowe has gotten worse from start to start and is obviously out of gas after an extremely lengthy career. The best move for the Tribe would be to make him a long man out of the bullpen to replace one of the inconsistant pitchers there, preferably Jeremy Accardo. This would also give the Indians another option if the Roberto Hernandez experiment fails miserably. Rather than releasing Lowe or sending Tomlin to the minors, they would have his replacement ready to go immediately.
This is all still three weeks away so a lot could still change. One thing I know for sure is that I don't want to hear a single person say that this is like the Indians making a big trade to get another starting pitcher. It is nothing like that and they should still be aggressive in the trade market trying to get another pitcher and another right handed hitter. If the Indians traded for a pitcher of Hernandez's caliber the front office would be booed out of Cleveland so they shouldn't try to make this a bigger deal than it is.
Welcome back Fausto. We love you, we really do.