"I've been feeling good. Last year was a little bit of an adjustment in the form of a five-man rotation and this year I'm a little more adjusted to it," Hernandez said. "I prepared in the offseason to get ready for that."
His recent success is no accident. The University of Miami prospect has impressed his coaching staff with his dedication and work ethic at this level.
"We've got a lot of great workers in this organization but he is a tremendous worker. He is a guy who is very committed to his opportunity to play baseball," pitching coach Bob Kipper said.
A confident approach has paid off for the second year Double-A pitcher.
"I continue working hard and just carrying the same mentality into every game," Hernandez said. "Nothing's really been surprising me because I've been working hard in between each start in the sessions on the side and while I do my bullpen work.
"I've strung together a couple of good outings. Last time out was a little rough but that's how the game goes," he said about his June 24th start in Trenton. I had a rough first inning and then bounced back. I'm feeling real good now."
In a game where precision is key, Hernandez's attention to detail is what allows him to get ahead and stay ahead in this organization.
Sustaining that work ethic over time is what separates the good from the great. But separate from the work ethic is the mental game. It's a long season and staying mentally sharp can prove to be just as important.
"I watch him make timely adjustments on the mound and be able to put himself back together when he gets out of sorts," Kipper remarked. "Because of that he has always been able to minimize damage. He has been a guy who has been very consistent with us in going deeper into games."
Hernandez isn't a guy who will throw 100 miles an hour to try and get batters out. His game is more tactical than that.
"He's a guy who's all about mix and he accepts that," Kipper added. "He's not going to overwhelm you with his stuff. He's not a velocity guy. His stuff has action that plays in the zone."
One of the things he has been working hard at is developing his curve. While it used to be his last option, the extra time he has devoted to the breaking ball has paid off.
"It's unrealistic to think a guy's going to go out every five days and showcase four pitches for you," Kipper said. "Usually you establish your fastball and you pitch off of it.
"His curveball, he has worked diligently on and it comes to a point where it becomes a strike stealer early in the count. He's had opportunities to use it as a finishing pitch and has done so successfully."
It is easy to see how and why Hernandez has achieved his top-of-the-charts numbers so far. Though he has been successful in many levels of his career, winning a national championship with the Miami Hurricanes in 2010, he has not taken anything for granted.
"He is so engaged in his game," Kipper said. "He loves to talk about baseball and is a very good self-evaluator. He's one of those guys who appreciates and respects his opportunity to play baseball."
Great pitchers are gifted in their abilities and then their actions and attitudes toward the game they love. Chris Hernandez
has made the most of his opportunities so far. No need to stray from a winning formula.
Chris Hernandez doesn't overpower batters but yet his combination of pitch-ability and consistency on the mound has allowed him to be one of the most reliable pitchers in the Double-A Eastern League this year, a formula he and his coaches don't plan on changing.
Chris Hernandez has easily been the most consistent starting pitcher for Portland this year.