Jose Hernandez has pitched very little for the Pittsburgh Pirates so far, but he's shown off some impressive stuff in his brief major league time
The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Jose Hernandez via the Rule 5 Draft. Going into the draft, Hernandez was a prospect in the Dodger system, known for his big velocity and wipeout slider. During 2022, Hernandez pitched to a 3.32 ERA, 4.50 FIP, and 1.21 WHIP through 59.2 innings. The lefty had a healthy 27.8% strikeout rate, but walked 10.1% of opponents he faced with a HR/9 of only 1.21.
So far, Hernandez has only pitched eight innings, but they’ve been eight successful innings, as Marty recently wrote. He’s only allowed a single earned run with a 6:1 K:BB ratio. Hernandez has looked good, and so has his stuff, but there are a few reasons that make Hernandez’s pitches so good.
First, Hernandez has always had above average velocity with his four-seamer. Hernandez currently averages out at 95.7 MPH. The second reason is his slider has a ton of movement. It is a small sample size, but Hernandez’s slider averages out at 39.2 inches of vertical movement. That’s more horizontal movement than Michael Kopech, Yu Darvish, Jack Flaherty, or Logan Webb average out with their sliders.
However, the major reason is Hernandez’s active spin rate. Active spin refers to spin that contributes to movement. Hernandez’s fastball is one of the highest active spin fastballs in baseball, coming in at 99.4%. That’s the eighth highest among all pitchers. On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, Hernandez’s slider has an active spin rate of just 12.9% (your slider should have a lower active spin percentage). That’s the second lowest in baseball. He spins his slider almost like a football, which gives it high horizontal movement.
Hernandez could end up being a diamond in the rough find by the Pirates. It would be nice if Hernandez developed into a quality left-handed relief pitcher. He certainly has the stuff to do so. Hopefully, the Pirates have found a good lefty who could regularly take up high-leverage situations.