It’s way too early in the season for a legitimate evaluation, but I can’t help myself in saying that I’ve been impressed with what Heath Hembree has done out of the Red Sox bullpen thus far in 2020
In four appearances, the right-hander has yet to allow a run or walk while surrendering just one hit and striking out four over 3 1/3 innings of relief.
Over those four outings dating back to Opening Day, Hembree has faced 11 batters and thrown 46 total pitches, 32 of which have been strikes. In terms of pitch breakdown, the 31-year-old has thrown 26 four-seam fastballs (56.5%), 18 sliders (39.1%), and two curveballs (4.3%). One of those two curveballs thrown went for a hit against the Mets on Thursday, but it was just a harmless single.
Hitters thus far a slashing a measly .091/.091/.091 off Hembree while swinging and missing more than 15% of the time and striking out more than 36% of the time.
Per Statcast, Hembree’s xERA, or expected ERA, this season is 0.72, which ranks in the 98th percentile of major-league pitchers this season. In other words, the South Carolina native has been great. That much is also evident when you consider the fact that Hembree has accrued 0.2 fWAR so far this year, which is already higher than his 2018 and 2019 totals, according to FanGraphs.
Again, this is all within a very small sample size and some regression is likely to come, but after an injury-hampered 2019 campaign, seeing Hembree get off to this hot start out of the Red Sox bullpen sure is encouraging. It just goes to show that when healthy, the veteran righty is an extremely valuable member of Boston’s relief corps for manager Ron Roenicke. He’s proving that much right now.