KC Royals: Jesse Hahn nailed his bullpen audition

The KC Royals are looking towards the future, and so far, the bullpen looks to be on the right track for more success during the 2021 season.

The 2020 regular season is over, though it seems like there should still be a few month’s worth of games. While the shortened season didn’t seem as noticeable once things got started, now that the KC Royals are done and it’s time for the postseason, it’s hard to shake the feeling that things just aren’t right.

Still, the KC Royals finished their final game of the season yesterday with a win, the best way they could send off veteran Alex Gordon with no fans in the stands. Over the next few weeks, and especially once the postseason is over, the focus will turn to things such as free agency, roster changes, and preparation for 2021.

For the Royals, there will be plenty of storylines to follow. The outfield is sure to be a point of interest, pitching may be put on the back burner for once in the offseason, and there could still be some movement through the infield.

Luckily, there were plenty of pitchers who managed to make their argument this season and can rest safely, knowing they have a good chance of being back in 2021. One pitcher who really made a good argument for himself in 2020 is Jesse Hahn.

Hahn, many might remember, came to the Royals through a trade in January 2018 that saw him and Heath Fillmyer come to Kansas City from Oakland for Ryan Buchter and Brandon Moss.

Hahn had seen some major league success in 2014-15. He saw his numbers suffer in 2016-17, but still pulled a decent amount of innings in Oakland. For the Royals, he seemed like a good fit. A sort of reclamation project, just what they like.

Unfortunately, Hahn would have to wait. Injury struck and Hahn pitched only a handful of innings between 2018-2019. The only major league innings he pitched during that span were at the end of 2019, where he pitched 4.2 innings and gave up 7 runs. His control was not there and he was not ready.

The Royals saw something in Hahn, though, and quickly signed him to a new contract during the offseason, bringing him back for 2020. There were questions about what role he would play. He had experience as a starter, but the Royals seriously needed bullpen help.

Hahn found his way to the bullpen in 2020 and while his sample size may not be huge, he gave everything he had and passed his audition perfectly.

Hahn pitched 17.1 innings and gave up only 1 run. He ended 2020 with an ERA of 0.52, FIP of 2.56, a walks per 9 of 4.2, and a strikeouts per 9 of 9.9. Hahn also 3 saves in 3 opportunities.

For the Royals, their waiting was worth it. For Hahn, his performance secured him a further look in 2021. With the closer job not pinned down to anybody and a continued need for elevated bullpen performance, a season like Hahn’s will not be easily dismissed.

The Royals are looking to return to the postseason. A bulked-up bullpen helped in 2014-15, and it would help again.

Hahn has major league experience, has battled, and worked his way back to a good place. His knowledge is important for a young pitching staff, and his outstanding curve works perfectly for high-pressure situations.

With a healthy and full offseason before him, expect some work from Hahn and a desire to progress even more next season.

Next: KC Royals: Farewell to Alex Gordon, a real ballplayer

Jesse Hahn has set himself up for a spot with the Royals in 2021.