2013 Phillies Report Card: Jeremy Horst
Jeremy Horst turns 28 years old today. It might be the first good thing that has happened to him all year.
Horst had an impressive 2012 season, posting a 1.15 ERA in 31.1 innings, averaging well over a strikeout per inning. Along with closer Jonathan Papelbon and set-up man Antonio Bastardo, it looked like the Phillies were going to have a fearsome back of the bullpen. Unfortunately, he was never able to get it going in 2013, allowing runs in three of his first five appearances. The struggles continued into mid-June as Horst allowed runs in four of his final six appearances before landing on the disabled list with a strained left elbow, ending his season.
The velocity on Horst’s fastball declined by nearly two miles per hour, resulting in a strikeout rate nearly half of last year’s — 32 to 17 percent. After dominating lefties (.441 OPS) and holding right-handers at bay (.658) in 2012, hitters from both sides clobbered him all year (.821/.961).
Compared to 2012, Horst left a noticeable percentage of pitches up and away, allowing hitters to utilize the middle and opposite fields to their advantage. In 2012, hitters pulled 53 percent of balls put in play; this season, they pulled just 31 percent. When they did pull the ball, they did damage, posting a .620 wOBA compared to .286 last year.
The good news for the Phillies is that Horst didn’t cost them much. They acquired him in January 2012 for Wilson Valdez and he won’t be eligible for arbitration until 2015. Unlike, say, Mike Adams, it doesn’t hurt as much when Horst performs poorly and lands on the disabled list. Plus, he has youth on his side so there is plenty of room for a rebound, which the Phillies are hoping happens in 2014. Along with Bastardo and Jake Diekman, the Phillies could be terror on left-handed hitters and have a potent back of the bullpen — a marked upgrade over what we saw this season.
I gave Horst a C-. He performed poorly but some of that was due to the elbow injury, which shouldn’t be held against him. I am still confident he can be a productive member of the bullpen, especially if he can recover the velocity that was absent throughout most of the 2013 season.
Grades from the rest of the Crashburn staff: