Blue Jays Opposing Pitcher Report: David Hess

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 30: David Hess #41 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches against the Washington Nationals during the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 30, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 30: David Hess #41 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches against the Washington Nationals during the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 30, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

On Thursday, June 7, the Blue Jays play the only team below them in the AL east standings, the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles come across the border for an extended four game series against their Canadian rivals. The rookie starter, David Hess, will takes the ball for the Orioles. The Blue Jays will send veteran lefthander Jaime Garcia to the mound.

David Hess was drafted by the Orioles just a few years ago, in the 2014 amateur players draft. A former fifth round pick, Hess quickly worked through the minors, only hitting a speed bump in double-A—where he played three seasons.

The young righty began his season in triple-A Norfolk. However, the Orioles selected him as the 26th man for a May doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays. Promptly sent down after the game, the right-hander was recalled for a May 20th start—and has stuck as a starter in the struggling Orioles rotation.

The rookie only struggled in his second major league start, against the Boston Red Sox. Hess allowed five runs in 4 2/3 innings, including three home runs, eight hits, and two walks. However, he has been excellent in his past two games —going 6 2/3 shutout innings against the Rays and six innings of one run ball against the Nationals.

In total, the former fifth round pick has played well for the Orioles. The youngster has posted a 2-2 record, 3.47 ERA, 5.64 FIP, 1.200 WHIP, and a 122 ERA+. According to Fangraphs, Hess has been perfectly replaceable, posting a 0.0 fWAR.

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While offering four different pitches—a four seam fastball, slider, change-up, and curveball—the rookie is a two pitch pitcher, for the most part. The righty leans heavily on his fastball while mixing in a slider occasionally.

Hess has featured his heater 60.6% of the time in his four starts this season. The four seamer averages a mediocre 92.7 mph with minimal movement. Despite holding essentially flat movement, he spots his fastball well.

The right-hander has used his slider 26.6% of the time this season. The breaking ball averages 79.8 mph and holds normal slider break. However, when hitters are looking for a fastball almost every pitch, the slider doesn’t need to break much to fool them.

The rookie finishes his pitch offerings with occasional change-ups and curveballs. Hess features his off-speed pitch  7.9% of the time, averaging a a decent 84.1 mph . The hook is very slow, averaging 71.5 mph, and has been used 4.8% of the time this season.

Hess understands that his pitches are nothing special. Realizing the need to stay around the strike zone, Hess has thrown strikes 68% of the time this season. For reference, the major league average is usually around 62.4% to 63.5%.

The young righty is an extreme fly ball pitcher. In his four starts, he has produced fly balls 49.4% of the time. He keeps batters off balance, though, as he allows line drives just 13% of the time. However, his hard hit rate, 32%, suggests that he lives a little dangerously.

Despite staying around the strike zone, Hess does not strikeout many batters. This season he has managed a poor K rate of 12.6% and a similarly bad 4.63 K/9. Even more concerning, he has struggled with allowing walks, to the tune of a 6.3% BB rate and 2.32 BB/9.

He owns an incredibly low .236 BABIP. Indicative of this, his high 5.64 FIP suggests that the right-hander has been more lucky than good. Once batters begin to understand him, and recognize his pitches out of his hand, his numbers will start to respond accordingly.

Also indicative of his poor pitching skill, he has allowed five home runs in four starts. While three of these home runs came in one start, the danger in his fly ball inducing ways is clear. His HR/FB rate (13.2%) is a little bloated, to be fair, but as this regresses, he will likely start allowing more hits and more doubles, as well.

Since the right-hander made his major league debut just a few weeks ago, the Blue Jays have never played Hess in the major leagues. However, the Blue Jays love nothing more than a good fastball, so the righty projects as a solid matchup for their hitters.

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Jaime Garcia has been a full range of dominant and horrendous for the Blue Jays. Fortunately for Garcia, the Orioles offence goes as far as Manny Machado carries them. The Blue Jays will try to produce a fair amount of run support against the rookie pitcher.