In 2021, Sam Hentges made his Major League debut as a starter against the Chicago White Sox. Hentges was pretty much forced into this starting role after the rotation suffered numerous injuries, and it was not all smooth sailing for him. In his first season, Hentges started 12 games and went 0-4, had an ERA of 7.90, gave up 53 hits, and 36 earned runs. Yeah, not great.
Flashforward to 2022, it was a pretty fair question for fans to ask whether or not there was a spot for Hentges in the pitching staff. Clearly, it was not going to be in the rotation, and it did not appear that the bullpen would have a spot open either.
However, Hentges made the most of his opportunities and now finds himself in a valuable role for this Guardians team.
This season, Hentges has appeared in 11 games of relief for the Guardians. In those 11 games, he has a 0.69 ERA and has only given up seven hits. He also has 17 strikeouts and only one walk!
Looking at the advanced stats, Hentges ranks in the 95th percentile in K% and BB%, and in the 97th percentile in xERA and xwOBA. How come no one is talking about this guy more?!
With numbers like this, it is safe to say that Hentges feels comfortable in this relief role. He has been fantastic coming out of the bullpen for the Guardians and it is time he starts getting recognized for it.
Watch as Hentges crosses up Josh Donaldson with his nasty curve:
It is hard to watch young players struggle when they enter the big leagues, especially when they are thrown into a situation they are not ready for like Hentges was last year. But on the other hand, it is so enjoyable to watch these young players find themselves and become established in their role. This is exactly what Hentges has done by making the shift to the bullpen for 2022, and it is awesome to watch play out!
Sam Hentges joins pitchers such as Trevor Stephan and Anthony Gose who have taken major steps forward as relievers this season, and have become an important part of this Guardians team.
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