For a lot of people, this a sight for sore eyes. For a lot of others, it is one of a slew of new players that Brewers fans need to get acquainted with.
Whichever side of the fence you’re sitting on, Jim Henderson is officially a Milwaukee Brewer.
For those of you who don’t regularly run down the Nashville Sounds beat, Jim Henderson has been working, until this point, as the team’s regular closer where he notched 15 saves.
Henderson is thirty years old, and he has been in the minors since 2003 when he was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 26th round. From there he worked his way through the Expos (then Nationals) system before being acquired by the Chicago Cubs organization with a short stint as a starting pitcher, with limited success.
For his Minor League career, Henderson is 40-35 with a 3.96 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP. HE has fanned 492 batters in his career up to this point. This season in Nashville may have been his best so far, where he has gone 4-3 in 48 innings of relief with 56 strikeouts and holding opposing batters to a .214 average.
His purchase comes at a time when the Brewers desperately need some one to stop the bleeding in the bullpen. Henderson may be up to the task – in his Minor League career, Henderson is 61-72 in save opportunities, going 15-16 in 2012. He’s never blown more than three saves in a season.
Henderson has gone through many changes in his career, starting at Tennessee Wesleyan University as an outfielder, with limited success and limited playing time until he refocused his athletic ability to a life on the mound.
He pitched well enough to get drafted, and play professional baseball for the better part of a decade, including three stops in the AAA level with both the Cubs and Brewers. He continued, however, to struggle with his command and with rhythm on the mound. So he abandoned his wind-up in favor of pitching solely from the stretch. He told the Nashville City Paper:
“I just wanted to focus on the one delivery to home plate. I tried to raise my arm slot a little bit. I think both have helped out tremendously in my command and making pitches when I need to.”
-Jim Henderson, via the Nashville City Paper
His 1.69 ERA in 2012 should speak to his ability to command the strike zone, and his former manager in Nashville also lauds his ability to remain aggressive in the strike zone and get after opposing hitters. That might be one reason why he has a ground out/air out ratio of .55 – something that may need to be tweaked in the big club, especially knowing how a fly ball can travel on you in Miller Park.
For now, however, Jim Henderson is content to simply be a Brewer. It’s the culmination of a life-long dream and a ten-year struggle to climb the Minor League ranks. There’s no word yet on who’s spot on the roster Henderson is taking, but there’s little doubt that he earned the chance to take it.