The Orioles acquired Hunter and Chris Davis for Koji Uehara from the Texas Rangers in 2011. Hunter was drafted by the Rangers in the 2007 MLB draft in the supplemental first round. Hunter made his debut for the Rangers in 2008 as a starting pitcher.
Hunter had mixed success with the Rangers both as a starting pitcher and a reliever. In 2010 Hunter had a very good season with a 13-4 record and a 3.73 era. When the Orioles tried Hunter out as a starter he had major problems keeping the ball in the ballpark. Hunter allowed 32 home runs in 33 games in 2012, the year in which he lost his starting pitching role. In 2012, the term “Tommy goes Boom” was used in a negative way whenever he gave up a home run.
The difference between Hunter starting and Hunter pitching out of the bullpen is night and day. When Hunter pitches as a starter his fastball ranges in the mid to low 90’s. Out of the bullpen, Hunter pitches in the high 90’s, regularly hitting 98 and 99 mph. Hunter has occasionally hit 100 mph.
In 2013 Hunter had his first full season pitching out of the bullpen and he did it with great success. In 68 games Hunter had a 6-5 record and a 2.83 era. Hunter had 68 strike outs and only gave up 11 home runs, but that is with less innings pitched.
Hunter is projected to be one of the Orioles closers for the 2014 season. With Hunter’s fastball and experience pitching out of the bullpen he is a very good option.
In the locker room and with fans Hunter can be a bit of a goofball but it comes with a serious desire to win. Hunter works hard at his craft and is a valuable member of the Orioles. The bullpen is the best place for Hunter and I do not see him ever starting again in the Majors. Hunter pitching all out for a couple innings is where he has the most success.
Here is a good video on Hunter.
Here are some of Hunter’s stats.