Fantasy Impact: Jesse Hahn’s Injury
Acquired from San Diego during the offseason, Jesse Hahn has been a solid starting pitcher for both the Oakland A’s and fantasy players in 2015. He has posted six wins with an ERA of 3.35 and a 1.17 WHIP so far this season, but Hahn last pitched on July 1 against the Colorado Rockies. He was pitching well, posting an ERA of 2.42 in his last eight starts. Unfortunately, it appears as if the rest of his season is now in jeopardy.
Hahn was slated to pitch in Oakland’s series against the New York Yankees but was scratched because of discomfort in his elbow. The A’s did not think this was a serious injury at first. After Hahn successfully completed a bullpen session on July 8, he was scheduled to pitch July 11 against the Indians. On Thursday, with the soreness still present, Hahn was again scratched from his start and sent back to Oakland for an MRI.
The MRI revealed a strained flexor tendon, similar to what is plaguing Clay Buchholz of the Boston Red Sox. In Buchholz’s case his manager, John Farrell, expressed optimism that there was no significant damage to his ace’s elbow, though Buchholz was tentative about the time frame for his return. In Hahn’s case, Oakland’s front office has provided no reason for optimism.
The A’s were going to skip Hahn’s first turn in the rotation coming out of the All-Star break, but Billy Beane, the A’s general manager, indicated that the pitcher would be out longer. “We’re going to be conservative with Jesse. And the tough thing with starters is once they’re shut down, it take a while to build back up. So it’ll be longer rather than shorter.”
In keeper leagues that have a deep bench or DL spots, he is certainly worth stashing for 2016, depending on the cost to keep him. While it was mentioned that fantasy owners are unsure of what to do with Hahn, I am convinced that he can be dropped in most formats.
Beane’s statement is concerning enough. I am also concerned because I have not seen any formal acknowledgment from Oakland regarding the structural integrity of the ulnar collateral ligament in Hahn’s pitching elbow. Hahn does have a history of arm trouble, including a Tommy John surgery in 2010, so it is no surprise that Oakland will be especially cautious here.
The Athletics are in last place in the American League West, and trade rumors have been following the team for a few weeks now. Scott Kazmir, Tyler Clippard, and Ben Zobrist are free agents after this season, and Beane will likely deal them away for future assets. If those three were, in fact, dealt it would certainly lessen the team’s need to rush Hahn back. At 25 years old, Hahn is a valuable piece for Billy Beane; a young, cheap pitcher that has performed well for Oakland and, if he continues to perform well, a valuable trading chip within the next few seasons.
Next, Hahn’s strikeout rate is concerning, falling from 22.9% last season to just 15.8% through the first half of 2015. It certainly appears as if he is using the spaciousness of the Coliseum to his advantage, pitching to contact more frequently. That falling K-rate does limit his fantasy value and when comparing the two based on Pitch Types on Fangraphs, I can easily see Hahn developing into a Doug Fister or a Tim Hudson, a solid No. 4/5 starting pitcher with good ratios and a K/9 rate around 6.0. While certainly valuable, Hahn is not the type of pitcher you must keep from season to season.
Jeremy Tiermini is a correspondent at FantasyPros. To read more from Jeremy follow him on Twitter at @.