Based on ZiPS projections, Sam Hentges is expected to finish 2023 with the following stats:
59 G, 58.3 IP, 27.3% K%, 9.8% BB%, 3.24 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 0.6 fWAR
Read what our writers think, then vote in the poll below and drop your own opinions in the comments and on the Covering the Corner Discord.
Merritt Rohlfing’s prediction: UNDER
Sam Hentges was one of many revelations in 2022 for the Guardians. After a rookie season where he was every bit of terrible as a reliever, he was elite out of the ‘pen last year. His ERA dropped by about four and a half runs, his strikeout rate leaped eight points to 29.4% as his walk rate dropped to 7.8%, and his grounder rate jumped more than fifteen points to 60.4%.
I wrote about it a bit, but the big lefty found ways to make himself as effective against right-handers as he was against southpaws. In an era where the LOOGY is disappearing with the various new rules, this was a vital evolution and certainly a welcome new development.
Hentges was great last year, and there’s little reason to think that he can not only smash his ZiPS projection but set a new single-season WAR tot— ...
Guardians' Sam Hentges Shut Down Due To Shoulder Issue https://t.co/b1uKLLMGsC pic.twitter.com/xiPtjMu9j1— MLB Trade Rumors (@mlbtraderumors) March 1, 2023
I’ve never been a big shoulder guy anyway.
The world of relief pitching is mysterious, squirrelly, and uncertain. Hentges is a perfect resident of that world, but it’s worrying to see that his shoulder is now a problem one year after leaping into dominance. And for pitchers, no matter who they are, shoulder issues are never a minor thing.
Hentges never had any real documented problems in the past, so hearing that he has a problem with his throwing arm is not altogether a death knell. Still, it’s something you can’t not think about. The projections say he’ll top 58 innings, but those are pre-injury. I still think he can be effective, but it behooves the Guardians to slow roll his build-up and season.
Last year we saw James Karinchak be effective over 39 innings, and he compiled 1.0 fWAR, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Hentges got to his 0.6 projected number. But coming into a season injured, with a bunch of other arms that could take some of his work is not a great way to start the year. I wouldn’t be surprised if he came close to the 1.1 WAR he put up in 2022, but when a shoulder injury rears its head it makes every kind of sense to start worrying.
Here’s hoping it’s just a blip.
Will Sam Hentges finish with an fWAR over or under 0.6?
This poll is closed
Tomorrow’s player: Bo Naylor