Reflecting on Hahn, Graveman Debuts

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Apr 7, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Jesse Hahn (32) throws to the Texas Rangers in the first inning of their MLB baseball game at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Athletics baseball is back and fans finally got to see their 2015 A’s take the field in games that actually matter for the first time this year. The start of the season has been a bit of a roller coaster to say the least. As one of our staff writers, Selena Smith, points out here, the A’s were a team of extremes this week. Oakland teams always seem to have a knack for keeping things exciting, and this team is no different.

One of the reasons this team is so exciting and intriguing is all of the new players that we acquired over the course of the off season. The A’s have no shortage of new faces to keep tabs on this season, but the two that intrigue me the most are rookie pitchers Kendall Graveman and Jesse Hahn.

Both Graveman and Hahn made their Oakland Athletics debut this past week. For Graveman, his first Major League start for any team. Both pitchers took a loss, but there’s always more to the story than just W’s and L’s. Both pitchers had some ups and downs, and there will definitely be some growing pains over the course of the season, but I believe that both of these young throwers will have a positive impact on our season.

It’s always difficult to judge a rookie’s first start. It’s impossible to know how much nerves factored into his performance. I know I’d have a few butterflies in my tummy, so I try to keep that in mind while watching a player make his MLB debut. It’s a big moment for them, and not every player can be the unwavering bulldog that is Sonny Gray.

Kendall Graveman pitched on Thursday against the Texas Rangers going only 3 1/3 innings giving up 8 runs (7 Earned), 7 hits, 2 home runs, 1 walk, and 1 strike out. Not the most promising pitching line I’ve ever seen, but there were some positives to go with the negatives. He of course is a groundball pitcher, so the home runs are a little troubling, but for the most part he induced weakly hit balls that just happened to find holes and hit gaps. Also, only allowing one free base via walk is a promising sign to see out of a young kid, especially when he’s struggling.

Overall I’d say it was a poor outing that showed some small signs of promise.

Some people are already off the Graveman hype train, but my opinion is a little more generous. One poor start does not make a season. There are plenty of people that disagree with GM Billy Beane, but one thing no educated fan could argue is that Billy and his team know pitching. Obviously, the front office and the coaching staff see something in this kid that makes them believe in him, and I have enough faith in this team’s front office baseball minds to give this kid a few more tries before I join the “We want Uncle Jesse!” movement.

Speaking of Jesse’s, the green and gold has a new Jesse in town: Jesse Hahn.

As we’ve discussed before, GM Billy Beane likes to trade players like I used to trade Pogs in the 90’s, and because of this I have grown thick skin. I don’t easily get upset anymore when he trades away a player that I’ve grown to love because I consider it part of the game. However, I really liked Derek Norris. When I heard we traded him away for this Jesse Hahn kid I was a little dismayed, and I thought to myself, “this kid better be good Billy or I’m going to stop using the ’in Billy we trust’ hashtag so often!”

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However, lost in the irony of my idol threat, is the fact that Billy was right. This kid looks like the real deal.

Hahn got the nod from Manager Bob Melvin as the #2 man in the rotation behind ace Sonny Gray so obviously he has BoMel’s support. On Tuesday, the 25 year old took the mound for the first time as an Oakland Athletic and pitched well. He gave his team a quality outing going 6 innings, giving up 3 earned runs, 7 hits, 3 strike outs, and no walks. Not a bad night for a young kid making his first start for a new team.

The most promising number that stood out for me was the 0 walks. For a kid that has such a nasty curveball, and a good two seam fastball with movement, being able to locate pitches well enough to not allow a free base in six innings is a victory in itself.

Speaking of Hahn’s nasty curveball, that thing had its nastiness on full display Tuesday night. When a pitcher throws a 93 mph fastball by you, and then turns around and tosses a 74 mph curveball with major top to bottom movement, it can be a difficult task to hit. It’s obvious that as he develops this season that curveball will be an above average pitch for any major league pitcher. To complement the great two seamer and curveball, he also has a great change up, a slider, and can throw his four seam fastball in the high 90’s when he needs to.

Overall, I’d declare this a successful start to what should be a promising season for Jesse Hahn. He has all of the skills necessary to help this team succeed. Now it’s time to see some consistency every fifth day.

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