Jesse Hahn made his debut for the Kansas City Royals on Thursday out of the bullpen. If healthy, he can be a valuable asset in that role.
When the Kansas City Royals made the trade to acquire Jesse Hahn and Heath Fillmyer in the 2017 offseason, the hope was that he was going to be in the rotation for the team. In 2017, Hahn made 13 starts (14 appearances) for the Athletics while tossing 69.2 innings with 55 strikeouts and 27 walks to the tune of a 5.30 ERA.
However, that plan was quickly shutdown (literally) when Hahn started feeling soreness in his elbow during spring training. Eventually, he was formally shut down and after numerous occurrences of being close to returning and being shut down again. Hahn finally made his Royals debut on Thursday against the Detroit Tigers.
He tossed a scoreless inning, striking out two batters in the process and needed just 12 pitches to finish off the top half of the 8th inning. Hahn showed really good velocity on his fastball, topping out at 97 mph against Willi Castro with his slider sitting around 87 mph.
It’s not uncommon for former starters to make their return to baseball after recovering from an injury but as a reliever. John Smoltz and Kerry Wood are names that immediately come to mind and Jesse Hahn could be on a similar path. Being a reliever would allow Hahn to throw the ball harder and take less time to recover before pitching again.
Certainly, the Royals want to be cautious with him but Hahn showcasing a 97 mph in his first outing is likely something people were not expecting. The bullpen could certainly use a power pitcher like him to complement Ian Kennedy in the back end of the bullpen. Obviously, it was just one outing (a very encouraging one at that) and we’ll have to see more of Hahn this month before making a final determination.
If he can finish the season strong and without injury lingering into next season, Jesse Hahn, the reliever, could be a very valuable asset for the bullpen going forward. Hahn is under team control through the 2021 season.