Drew Hayes came into 2012 after a dominating year out of the Dayton Dragons bullpen where he worked as the closer on most nights. With Dayton he saved 22 games while posting a 1.35 ERA in 60 innings with 27 walks and 89 strikeouts. The Reds held him and a few others back from promotions during 2011 to try and keep the team together for a strong run. To make up for that, they pushed Hayes to Pensacola and entirely skipped him over Advanced-A.
Hayes struggled in April overall, though it was mostly the first week of the season where he struggled. Between April 6th and April 13th he allowed 7 earned runs in 4.2 innings with 4 walks and 5 strikeouts. He improved over the rest of the month, allowing 4 runs in 7 innings with 4 walks and 10 strikeouts. He finished the month with a 6.16 ERA and a 1.63 WHIP over 11.2 innings. Hayes had 8 walks and 15 strikeouts. The walks were high but he was missing bats at a high rate.
May was a good month for the right handed reliever. For the first two and a half weeks Hayes was very strong, but had back-to-back games on the 19th and 20th where he gave up a total of 3 runs in just an inning of work. He finished up the month with a 3.28 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in 11 innings while walking 7 and striking out 14. The overall numbers were better than in April, but his walk rate was once again much higher than you would like but once again had a high strikeout rate.
June was perhaps the strongest month of the season for Hayes. He only gave up 2 runs on the month over 12.2 innings. He posted a 1.42 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP with 4 walks and 11 strikeouts. The walk rate was down, which was a good sign. The strikeout rate was also down, but was still in a good range that just wasn’t as good as the previous two months.
July was a mixed bag for Hayes. His ERA was strong as he finished with a 2.93 mark, but his WHIP was a bit high at 1.43 and he walked 8 batters with 15 strikeouts in 15.1 innings pitched. Again he saw a higher walk rate after a nice month of June, but again saw a good strikeout rate that was a little lower than the one he posted in the first two months.
The last month of the season was much like July in that it was a mixed bag. His 3.55 ERA was solid, but he walked 11 and struck out just 9 in 12.2 innings on the month with a 1.58 WHIP. His walk rate was easily the worst of the season and his walk rate was easily the highest. Perhaps he was tiring down the stretch.
Drew Hayes has outstanding stuff with an above-average fastball and a strong slider. Control has been a concern with him in the past and this year that was also another real struggle of his with nearly a 14% walk rate on the season. If he can cut down his walk rate to somewhere below 10%, he has a chance to be a good 8th inning reliever. However without being able to cut down on the walks, his good strikeout rate and ability to keep the ball on the ground will be limited by his control and he will likely be one of the first guys out of the bullpen rather than a late inning type. He could begin 2013 in either Pensacola or Louisville.