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2023 Braves Season in Review: Taylor Hearn

Taylor Hearn’s one appearance for the Braves was memorable for all of the wrong reasons.

Milwaukee Brewers v Atlanta Braves Photo by Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/Getty Images

Taylor Hearn spent about a week with the Atlanta Braves and made one disastrous appearance for the club before he was moved on to Kansas City in a trade for Nicky Lopez.

How Acquired

The Braves acquired Hearn from the Texas Rangers on July 24 in exchange for cash considerations.

What were the expectations?

Coming in it looked like Hearn might get an opportunity out of the bullpen as a lefty power arm. Atlanta was dealing with the loss of Dylan Lee to a shoulder injury and A.J. Minter was their only reliable left-handed option. At the time Hearn was acquired, both Lee and Minter were shelved, and Lucas Luetge was the only southpaw in the bullpen.

With that said, Hearn was more than just a warm body that threw left-handed. He managed 1.0 fWAR as a swingman with the Rangers in 2022 across 100 innings, with a 98 FIP- and 106 xFIP-, so there was some thought that the Braves could extract a decent lefty reliever from him working solely in short stints. Suffice to say, that didn’t happen, at all.

2023 Results

Hearn struggled to start the season with Texas as he worked his way back from injury. He made just four appearances for the Rangers and struggled, allowing eight runs in seven innings, largely due to a homer and four walks allowed.

His stint in Atlanta was even shorter. He made just one appearance and retired just one batter while allowing two hits, two walks and four runs in just a third of an inning. The Braves sent him to the Royals on July 30 in exchange for infielder Nicky Lopez. Hearn made eight appearances for Kansas City after the trade and allowed 12 hits and seven runs in 7 23 innings.

In the end, Hearn’s line was really ugly: across 13 appearances spanning 15 innings, he allowed four homers, had a 15/8 K/BB ratio, and an aggregate 258 ERA-, 146 FIP-, and 118 xFIP-. good for -0.1 fWAR.

What went right?

Not much. Hearn said during Spring Training that he wanted to be a starter, but it was clear from the outset that it wasn’t going to happen with the Rangers. His time with the Braves was short and he wasn’t effective with the Royals at the end of the season.

He got one out as a Brave:

What went wrong?

Pretty much everything. Maybe the only silver lining was that in his disastrous game as a Brave, he came in within an 11-1 lead and didn’t blow it. He did, however, completely melt down: walk, walk, wild pitch, RBI single, out, three-run homer to former Brave William Contreras, and then he hit the showers.

2024 Outlook

Hearn became a free agent this offseason after the Royals outrighted him off their roster, and will be looking for work. He just turned 29 and will need to show that he is further removed from the injuries that hampered him at the end of the 2022 season. The fastball velocity is still there so that is one thing to at least try and build off of.

Just like the Braves saw when they traded for him, there’s probably a decent reliever somewhere in there, but Hearn has an uphill climb to claim a major league roster spot because of his soggy 2023. Like many relievers, Hearn has a nice fastball that he struggles to command; unlike many relievers, he has quite good command of his slider/cutter. It’s easy to squint and see a key bullpen cog if he can just rein in the fastball’s yen to dart wherever it wants... but he actually needs to do that in an extended stint to get a real shot. He didn’t in 2023, and essentially never has, so it’s something to work on.

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