During the 2017-18 off season, the Milwaukee Brewers made a couple of large splashes in their outfield. The Brew Crew added All-Stars Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich to an already stellar outfield that includes Ryan Braun. The team was expected to be good, but there were still questions regarding their pitching.
Who outside of closer Corey Knebel would be a stopper in the Brewers bullpen? That question was quickly answered out of the gate in the form of flame-throwing lefty Josh Hader. The once unknown reliever has made a name for himself this season with stats that jump off the page. Could he be the arm that propels the Brewers to their first World Series appearance since 1982?
The average MLB fan likely did not know who Josh Hader was during his rookie 2017 campaign, but this was not due to poor performance. That year, he posted a 2.08 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 47.2 innings. Those numbers were solid and had experts believing that Hader could be a strong piece in the Brewers bullpen going forward. However, no one expected what would happen next.
This season, Hader has been the most dominant reliever in baseball over the first two and a half months. He has posted an eye popping 1.22 ERA, and the stats only get crazier from there. He has struck out 72 batters in just 37 innings (not a typo), already surpassing his punch-out total from last year. He has allowed just 11 hits on the year, which is an average of just 2.7 hits per 9 innings.
Hader’s value to the Brewers goes beyond just the improbable stats. He has given the Brewers a second knockout arm to closer Corey Knebel in the back of the bullpen. He is also able to go more than one inning, which allows Knebel some much needed rest on certain nights. The lefty has notched six saves on the season and is not afraid to pitch in high leverage situations. Hader has proven he can get both left and right-handed hitters out, as righties are batting .107, while lefties are batting .077. His command is impeccable, as he hasn’t gotten himself in a 3-0 count all season and rarely gets behind once he is ahead.
Milwaukee has a gem in the form of Josh Hader. During their 2016 World Series run, the Cleveland Indians used Andrew Miller, another dominant lefty reliever, in every situation imaginable. It wasn’t until the final games of the World Series where Miller ran out of gas and let up some runs. If the Brewers can manage Hader’s innings this season, he can easily become a better version of Miller. Look out National League; the Brewers not so secret weapon has been unleashed.
Photo: Jeff Roberson/AP