Through three starts, it looks as if there’s a chance for those hopes to be realized.
Walker allowed one unearned run and three hits in six innings to the Cleveland Indians, a team he has always pitched well against. He has allowed one earned run in 20 innings against them.
Walker, who had a ground-ball rate of 41 percent in his first full season last year, has induced 50 percent ground balls in each of his three starts, and also limited opponents to a 16 percent line-drive rate (it was 21 percent last season). Video review credits him with a 10 percent hard-hit rate (it was 15 percent last season).
Walker has been working to develop his curveball, but while he’s doing so, his splitter (which some call a changeup) has been terrific. Opponents are 2-for-20 against it this season. The Indians were 1-for-7 with five balls recorded as soft-hit.
On Wednesday, Walker also spotted his fastball well. Opponents went 2-for-11 against it, as he kept the pitch out of hitter’s reach.
Walker’s start is a sharp contrast to last season, when, after an impressive spring training, he allowed nine runs in his season debut and 15 runs in 12 2/3 innings in his first three starts.
And Walker has now done something Hernandez has never accomplished. He has started a season with three straight appearances of at least six innings, with no more than two runs allowed in each game.