Averaging 81.7 mph at 2760 RPM, Hembree’s curveball fixed its 2018 walk rate problem (16.7% to 8.3%) at the cost of its overall effectiveness. Its SwStr% (14.1%), zone rate (33.3%), and chase rate (31.8%) were all down, and its ISO (.273), WRC+ (138), and LD% (38.9%) were all up.
Hembree’s fastball lost a tick of velocity, averaging just 93.9 mph in 2019, but saw its spin rate tick up to 2456 RPM. By pVAL (4.6) and WRC+ (81), this was actually a career-best year for his fastball, though his underlying numbers were all roughly in line with career averages. So what changed? His .200 BABIP was a career best, 73 points below his average — and only the number of singles markedly declined from past years.
After two years of being a Money Pitch, Hembree’s slider saw its O-Swing% decline to 37.3% and was kicked out of that club. Its SwStr% actually ticked up to 19.1%, thanks in part to its Z-Contact rate dropping ten points. But on half its usual usage, batters managed to tee off on it: It had 193 WRC+ and a .450 wOBA, albeit alongside a .600 BABIP. Expect some regression back to its near-zero pVAL in 2020.
Hembree’s 95 mph four-seamer was a below-average pitch in 2018. While he generated a 23% K rate and an 11% swinging-strike rate, he also allowed a 10% walk rate and a lot of hard contact (.202 ISO and 14% HR/FB rate)
This 89 mph slider was an average pitch in 2018. Hembree generated a 33% K rate and an 18% swinging-strike rate, along with a 45% ground-ball rate. He did allow a lot of hard contact, though, with batters posting a .194 ISO and a 19% HR/FB rate.
Hembree’s curveball graded out as a slightly below-average pitch in 2018. He did generate a 37% K rate, 17% swinging-strike rate, and a 71% ground-ball rate on the pitch; however, he also allowed a 17% walk rate and had trouble throwing it for strikes, with only 36% of them hitting the zone.