For Ben Hecht, undergoing Tommy John surgery could not have come at a worse time in his career. Hecht was coming off a career year in 2019 and then the pandemic hit. When baseball resumed in spring training 2021, that’s when Hecht’s career took a side turn as he spent the next year plus rehabbing his arm. And when he returned in 2022, he did not look like he was the same pitcher we saw in 2019. However, it looks like 2023 is going to see a new Ben Hecht.
Ben Hecht 1.0
The Cubs took Hecht out of Wichita State in the 12th round in 2017. It was clear from the get-go that he had a live arm and was going to be used as a reliever. After short stay in Arizona, Hecht threw 17.2 innings at Eugene. He had a 1.53 ERA and struck out a solid 25 guys in his 10 games as a reliever.
Heading into 2018, big things were expected from him at South Bend. Hecht threw 55 innings that summer and struggled with consistency as he put up a 4.23 ERA. He struck out 59, but he also walked 29 and opponents hit .210 against him. His monthly splits were all over the place. He had a 2.25 ERA in April and followed that up with a 4.50 ERA in May and an ERA over five in June before coming back down to three in July and then going back up to almost six in August.
Something had to change.
Ben Hecht 2.0
The 2019 version of Ben Hecht was stupendous but not in terms of what he threw or how he threw it. His arsenal did not change from 2018 to 2019. Instead, Hecht began taking better care of himself in terms of nutrition. As well, he hit the weight room with regularity. He kept himself healthy and strong all season. And he just tore it up at Myrtle Beach and earned a promotion to Tennessee that same year. Hecht posted a 2. 57 ERA in 24 games at Myrtle Beach and a 3.13 ERA in 18 games at Tennessee. For the year, he struck out 71 guys in 58 innings. Hecht had put himself on the map.
Unfortunately, this is where the story takes a dark turn. A pandemic and Tommy John surgery changed a lot of things as Hecht had to sit for basically 2 and 1/2 years before he pitched again last summer in Tennessee. Let’s just say he did not look comfortable returning and leave it at that. He did get in 17.1 innings that are not worth writing about.
Ben Hecht 3.0
Usually, when guys miss a lot of time to Tommy John surgery, they spend most of their time rehabbing rather than working on their game. For Hecht, you can see the benefits already of him working on his arsenal this past winter to get back to where he was in 2019.
Hecht is starting off May strong. In 3 outings, he’s thrown 6.2 scoreless frames which has brought his ERA down to 2.93 for the year. In addition, he has not given up a hit at all this month.
At some point in the next week, Hecht will surpass his 2022 innings total. But what’s most impressive so far it’s not his strikeout total which is almost one per inning. It is that he’s not getting hit. Opponents are only batting .150 against him heading into this week. After last night, it is down to .130. And his slider looks excellent. He looks to have a real good feel for all his pitches now. See below.
I am excited to see how he throws the rest of this month as his comeback continues!