The latest addition to the Baltimore Orioles starting rotation is pitcher David Hess, who’s had two major league starts so far. Let’s take a look at what he can do.
Before coming to the majors, Hess had been having a lot of success within the Baltimore Orioles’ minor league system. Prior to being called up, Hess had pitched to a 2.12 ERA, 3.53 FIP, 1.08 WHIP, and an 8.80 K/9 through six starts and 29.2 innings pitched. We talked about him a bit as a potential call-up for the Orioles because of his success.
Unfortunately, that success hasn’t exactly translated to the majors so far, as Hess has pitched to a 6.75 ERA, 7.26 FIP, 1.50 WHIP, and 5.91 K/9 over two starts and 10.2 innings pitched. Granted, this is a small sample size, but things haven’t looked great.
Still, there’s reason to be interested in what Hess’ potential. Here we’re going to take a look at his repertoire and what he has to offer.
Hess’ most-thrown pitch (as it is for many pitchers) is his four-seam fastball. It’s a decent pitch, averaging about 93 MPH with the ability to ramp up to 95.
The pitch has some average movement on it, some decent ride, but to be honest, it’s a relatively average pitch. If he was able to consistently throw it closer to 95 MPH, it would be a much more interesting pitch. As it stands though, it’s a pretty typical four-seam fastball.
Perhaps Hess’ best pitch is his slider. Of the four pitches he has, it’s the only pitch to generate a positive pVAL so far, at 2.8.
It’s a really nice pitch too, coming in around 80 MPH on average with a lot of horizontal movement on it—just under two inches more horizontal movement than your typical slider.
In Hess’ two starts so far this year, his slider has easily been his best strikeout pitch, generating a 47.8% chase rate and a 17.8% whiff rate. If there’s reason to be optimistic about the potential of David Hess, it’s in part because of this slider.
Hess also throws a pretty decent changeup. The pitch comes in around 84 MPH on average with decent movement, albeit relatively below-average vertical and horizontal movement.
We’ve only seen the pitch 11 times so far, so it’s hard to make a total judgment on it, but it’s flashed some potential, however Hess had made some mistakes with it. Still though, it’s generated a respectable 9.1% whiff rate and shows some promise for the future.
The final pitch in Hess’ repertoire is an exceptionally slow curveball. The pitch comes in at about 72 MPH on average and gets as low as 70 MPH.
The pitch has a lot of movement on it. It has some slightly above-average horizontal movement and about an inch-and-a-half more vertical movent on it than your typical curveball.
It’s been his least-thrown pitch, but it flashes some potential with all of that movement. He’s been able to control it fairly well too, throwing it in the zone 55.6% of the time so far, however hitters haven’t really been chasing it, as it’s generated just a 25% chase rate (though it’s only been thrown nine times).
It’s good that the Baltimore Orioles are giving their younger players a chance at the major league rotation, it’s what a team in their position (read as: a losing team with no chance at the playoffs) should be doing—giving their prospects a chance.
There’s reason to be optimistic about Hess’ potential—when you look at his repertoire combined with his success in the minors, it’s not hard to see him eventually becoming a usable major league starter.
He doesn’t project to be an ace or anything, but a competent starter is something the Baltimore Orioles desperately need. Here’s hoping Hess eventually gets there.