There were bright spots for rookie Jesse Hahn in his major league debut for the San Diego Padres, but the Pittsburgh hitters capitalized on his mistakes.
The Hokie alumnus lasted 3.2 innings against Pittsburgh striking out 5, but giving up 6 hits, 4 runs and 2 walks on 79 pitches. Things got away from Hahn late in his outing to leave him with a loss, but it wasn't without highlights.
Hahn was perfect in the first inning and struck out reigning National League MVP Andrew McCutchen to finish the inning. He struck out two in the second inning before getting into trouble in the third. After allowing Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole to get on base, second baseman Neil Walker bashed a two run homer to center field giving Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead.
The trouble continued in the fourth when third baseman Pedro Alvarez hit another two-run homer to push the Pirate lead to 4-0.
The 24-year-old Hahn laid down a sacrifice bunt in his only at bat and hit mid-nineties on his fastball—proving the scouting report I referenced in my piece the other day was overly generous with speed, or the scout had a fast gun that day.
Still, there were moments to be savored for the rookie making an emergency start due to injury for the Padres.
Of note: Jesse Hahn is just the 3rd Hokie pitcher to START in his MLB debut. Others: Mike Williams, Phils ('92), Joe Saunders, Angels ('05)— Bill Roth (@VTVOICE) June 4, 2014
Jesse will likely return to the minors for more seasoning after his debut, but he certainly flashed enough to potential to get a look later in the season. If nothing else, look for him to rejoin the Padres when rosters expand to 40 players at the beginning of September.
The most innings he has thrown at the professional level prior to this year was 67 just last year. Having thrown more than that at VT, he is probably game to toss 120-130 innings this year. The Padres would likely be hesitant to double his workload completely in one year, though no one can tell exactly how many simulated games he threw in his rehab last year. It would be our guess that Hahn isn't completely free of inning micro-management and able to pitch a full 32 game slate at the major league level until 2016, given his injury history. And again, he might wind up being a dominant setup man or closer. But with three plus offerings (fastball, curve, change-up) when healthy, the Padres owe it to Hahn and themselves to give it a look from a starter's vantage point.
Last night we saw both the good and the bad. The make-up was not there when he was faced with baserunners, and he didn't trust himself to pitch to contact which led to nibbling around the corners and the walks, which he keeps under very good control (less than 3 per 9 innings in the minors, good for a power pitcher coming off elbow surgery) and pitched poorly out of the stretch. He looked great out of the windup though, and was embarrassing guys with a 12-to-6 curve that buckled LH and RH hitters alike.
Interestingly enough, fellow Hokie alum Joe Saunders returned from injury for the Texas Rangers and pitched six strong innings against the Baltimore Orioles. Saunders scattered 10 hits but allowed just two runs before giving way to shaky relief pitching that saw the O's win 8-3.
Two Hokie starters in one historic night! Hopefully they line up again once or twice more before Hahn goes back down. We'll be following closely here at Gobbler Country.