Key 2013 Stats:
28 MLB Games: 26.0 IP; 6.23 ERA; 1.808 WHIP; OPS Against: .905; BA Against: .330; BAbip: .378
What Happened in 2013:
Like many Phillies relievers, Jeremy Horst had what is ostensibly a lost season in 2013. However, unlike many of them, I’m not going to be too down on him – he played hurt for half the season and was shut down by mid July.
He was never going to repeat his unreal numbers from 2012, but given his past history, this level of regression is beyond realistic for a healthy player.
Traded from the Reds for Wilson Valdez, in 2012 Horst posted an immaculate 1.15 ERA with an 11.5 SO/9, but with an unsustainably high (for his level of dominance) 4.0 BB/9.
Some level of regression was predicted, but what happened was far beyond a realistic adjustment towards his talents.
He suffered from a dramatically increased BAbip (around 80 points higher than league average), a down SO/9 (7.3 vs. 11.5 in 2012), and relatively unchanged BB/9 (4.2 vs. 4.0).
This all signals that the elbow injury that eventually shut him down in mid-July was probably affecting his velocity (NOT an issue of control), allowing batters to make stronger contact off of his pitches.
In fact, in 2013 his average four-seam fastball velocity was down to 88.9 from 90.3 in 2012. This caused an increased reliance on his two-seam fastball (Horst’s weakest pitch).
He threw it 55 times in 26.0 IP in 2013, as opposed to 7 times in 31.1 IP in 2012. Opponents’ batting average against his two-seam fastball in 2013 was .545.
After a stint on the 15-day DL to end June/begin July, Horst attempted a couple of minor league rehab outings, but was eventually shut down after experiencing continued elbow soreness.
What to expect in 2014:
After missing the last few months of the season, Horst should be healthy by the beginning of 2014. However, despite the general negativity surrounding the bullpen, most of the spots have already solidified themselves.
In addition, there is the matter of Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, who may or may not be a rotation-ready starter on opening day (if things go poorly, he immediately takes up that spot in the bullpen).
I’d place Horst higher than some people on the 40-man depth chart, however. Depending on Adams’ health at the beginning of the season, he could sneak on the opening day roster, but ideally he’d be in Lehigh Valley on April 1.
He’ll put in some innings in AAA, and if he recovers some of his effectiveness lost from his injury (as should be expected), he’d be one of the first few called up in the event of any bullpen hiccups throughout the season.
He’s the kind of quality depth that was missing the last two seasons, and in 2014, expect 25-35 completely serviceable (if unspectacular) innings out of him on the major league level.