Roberto Hernandez named Rays’ fifth starter

The Tampa Bay Rays’ remaining spring drama is over.

Manager Joe Maddon announced Friday that right-hander Roberto Hernandez has won the fifth rotation spot. The former Cleveland Indians pitcher — signed in December to a one-year, $3.25 million deal — was in a competition throughout the spring with right-hander Jeff Niemann for the role. Maddon told reporters Niemann will be assigned to the bullpen.

Hernandez will join a rotation that includes left-hander David Price, right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, left-hander Matt Moore and right-hander Alex Cobb. Hernandez has a 5.33 ERA in seven appearances this spring; he gave up 16 earned runs and 18 hits. 

He was roughed up in his last start, giving up nine runs and 11 hits in six innings during a 10-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater, Fla. But after the game, Maddon said Hernandez actually had “good stuff” despite the pitcher’s worst outing of the spring. 

Niemann, meanwhile, has a 2.92 ERA in seven appearances, in addition to giving up eight earned runs and 23 hits.

“We’ll start the season with a rotation of Price, Helly, Hernandez, Moore & Cobb,” Maddon tweeted Friday morning. “Tough decision to move Niemann to pen. Great competition.”

Hernandez, a seven-year veteran, has a career 4.64 ERA in 184 appearances. He has a record of 53-69 in 153 starts, all with the Indians.

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