April 24, 2007

El Duque Evolved

Anthony Di Como at Mets.com, writes about Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez and how his evolution as a pitcher has added a whole new level to his game:

There was nothing remarkable about it. Nothing jumped off the newsprint the next morning, the box score instead thumbed over and forgotten -- another anonymous game washed away by baseball's ceaseless ebb and flow.

But there was something fitting, if not glamorous, about Orlando Hernandez's outing against the Marlins on Thursday night. The aging right-hander was coming off a start in which he appeared, as he has so many times before, on the brink of extinction. Disaster loomed.

Surely a talented young Marlins lineup would jump all over the struggling pitcher, as the needle on Hernandez's gas tank teetered dangerously into the red. Surely the bats would descend like vultures on a right arm that has logged obscene amounts of stress, and one that hasn't launched a truly impressive season in a half-decade. It appeared the Marlins were on the verge of fitting into place the last piece of a puzzle that for so long has shrouded one of baseball's greatest enigmas.

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