Dalier Hinojosa‘s major league debut didn’t go quite as smoothly as he probably would have liked. In 1.2 innings pitched last night against the Yankees, he was forced to escape a pair of bases loaded jams and walked three batters. Nonetheless, he showed the guile necessary to escape the jams and avoid any runs scoring, striking out a pair and generating weak contact. If he is able to tune down his control problems, playing up his great stuff, then Hinojosa could play a role this season in a depleted Red Sox bullpen.
The Red Sox signed Hinojosa to a $4.25M signing bonus in a minor league deal during the 2013-14 offseason out of Cuba. The 27-year old Hinojosa was and is projected as a relief pitcher, but drew interest from a number of major league teams due to his three-pitch mix and ability to rack up strikeouts out of the bullpen.
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That ability to rack up strikeouts held true through his first season in Triple-A Pawtucket, as Hinojosa has 9.5 K/9 en route to a 3.79 ERA in 41 appearances. However, he was also plagued by command issues as he walked 4.8 batters per nine innings, which likely prohibited him from making an appearance in Boston last season.
One year later, those control troubles have not dissipated, but Hinojosa finds himself in Boston in a time of need regardless. Hinojosa had thrown just 7.1 innings in Pawtucket, allowing three runs with nine strikeouts and four walks, but earns the promotion due to the thin Red Sox bullpen.
However, Hinojosa still may be able to make a major impact in the Red Sox bullpen. The Red Sox have a major lack of power relievers this season, with Junichi Tazawa and Alexi Ogando really the only two pitchers that could fall into that category. And while Hinojosa is hardly a young fireballer– he generally sits in the low 90’s– his strong three-pitch mix and “effectively wild” mantra certainly profile him as a power arm.
If Hinojosa is able to tune down the walks while continuing to generate swings and misses as he did with the PawSox, he could rise from relative obscurity to major league success. And even if Hinojosa isn’t able to cement himself as the next great Red Sox reliever, he can play a useful role just eating up innings for this overworked bullpen.