Toronto Blue Jays 2023 Season Preview: RHP Thomas Hatch

Jul 2, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Thomas Hatch (31) walks
Jul 2, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Thomas Hatch (31) walks / Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Next up in our Toronto Blue Jays 2023 season preview series is right-handed pitcher Thomas Hatch.


Addison Barger, Anthony Bass, Chris Bassitt, Brandon Belt, José Berríos, Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Matt Chapman, Adam Cimber, Hagen Danner, Santiago Espinal, Matt Gage, Yimi García, Kevin Gausman, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Before we get into this, here's a quick refresher on the projection models we'll be looking at.

STEAMER: 20 G (0 starts), 1-1 record, 4.01 ERA, 17 SO, 12 BB in 20 innings pitched

ZiPS: 24 G (20 starts), 6-7 record, 4.98 ERA, 85 SO, 35 BB in 108 innings pitched

2022 stats (Triple-A): 28 G (22 starts), 8-7 record, 4.67 ERA, 113 SO, 38 BB in 131innings pitched

Hatch, who'll be entering his age 28 season, is looking to find himself a full-time role in the majors in 2023. After being acquired via trade from the Cubs in 2019, he has spent the majority of the past two seasons in Triple-A Buffalo, but put together a solid year in relief during the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign.

Players who are on the roster bubble and don't really have a set role, especially pitchers, can be very hard for projection models to project as you can probably tell from the differences in Hatch's projections. The ZiPS model obviously sees him as a bottom-of-the-rotation starter, while STEAMER sees him as a low-leverage reliever. These both put Hatch into pretty set roles when in reality, I think we see him somewhere in the middle.

In 2020, Hatch put up a 2.73 ERA in 26.1 innings pitched in relief, but since then he's been used mainly as a starter in Triple-A and the big leagues. As of right now, it seems like the Blue Jays have their top six rotation spots locked up (Manoah, Gausman, Bassitt, Berríos, Kikuchi, White and even Ryu when he returns) so it may be difficult for Hatch to find himself a role as a starter. This means his best shot to become a regular would likely be as a long reliever, a spot that is definitely up for grabs for the Jays at the moment.

The past two seasons have been a struggle for Hatch, as he's only pitched 14 innings and allowed 17 runs over four appearances. Two of those appearances have come as the starter for the second game of a doubleheader, so the circumstances haven't been ideal, but he's pitched poorly nonetheless. While it may not be wise to bank on a huge year from him in 2023, there are some reasons to think he'll be better, here's why.

Hatch doesn't have the best stuff in his arsenal, but he's able to get really good spin on his fastballs, sitting in the 97th percentile in fastball spin in 2020. If you have a minute to watch his 2020 highlights, you can see how that translates to a really nice cutter paired with a mid-90s fastball that has some good rising action. This pair could be really effective out of the pen if he's able to control it, which is key. His control is what got him in trouble during his appearances these past couple years so he'll need to improve in that area this season.

If Hatch is able to stay on the Jays' roster for a decent part of the 2023 season, expect to see him in a low-leverage long relief role, probably pitching somewhere around 40 innings, and with an ERA somewhere in the mid-to-low 4.00's, similar to his STEAMER projections just with more volume. Hatch is a pretty hard player to project considering how little we know about what his role will be, but should he be given a shot, there's reason to believe that the Blue Jays could get some solid innings out of him.

Next. Podcast recap: Vicious Vladdy, contract extensions, more. dark