Last year, I took to the keyboard with the Milwaukee Brewers season outlook series, previewing the upcoming 2012 season for each
individual player. The series runs player-by-players season previews of each ballplayer expected to make a contribution for Milwaukee this season.
In hindsight, I was way too high on Brooks Conrad and the staff refuses to let go of that missed call (the RtB Fantasy League is named Dibs on Brooks Conrad), but calls on players like Carlos Gomez and Norichika Aoki were hit right on the head.
Jim Henderson – not previewed last year – may have been the largest surprise on a Brewers team that was full of surprises, both good and bad.
After ten years in the minor leagues between three organizations, “Gentleman Jim” was finally recalled to the Major Leagues on July 29 last season; he had been in the minors ever since being drafted by the Montreal Expos (how’s that for perspective?). He pitched a scoreless inning in a blowout loss to the Washington Nationals, striking out the first batter he faced, Roger Bernadina. Amidst the bullpen turmoil that arose, Henderson was promoted to closer within his first three weeks as a Brewer.
Over his 36 apperances, Henderson looked nothing like a ten-year minor leaguer called up as bullpen patchwork during (what was) a lost season. He missed bats (over 13 K’s per nine innings) with his two-pitch fastball/slider combo, and, when he was hit off of, he kept the ball down and in the park (only one homer allowed).
Henderson, a 6-foot-5, wiry right hander from Calgary, Alberta, Canada is in a viable position to open the season as the seventh inning man in Ron Roenicke’s bullpen with a reasonable shot at being the set up man. The Brewers showed confidence in Henderson for the future, as he and fellow Canadian John Axford were the only relievers retained from last year’s bullpen disaster.
After posting a 3.52 earned run average, 14 holds, huge strikeout numbers, 1.0 WAR, and team-high 1.95 FIP while sporting the number 51 jersey, Gentleman Jim stayed true to his namesake, giving up his jersey number to incoming LOOGy Michael Gonzalez. Henderson will be wearing the number 29 on the back of his jersey this season.
Henderson will be a vital arm in a much revamped 2013 bullpen. The likes of Gonzalez, Burke Badenhop, and Tom Gorzelanny will help carry the load before setting up for John Axford in the ninth. His strength against right handed hitters – a .497 OPS against righties stemming from the sharp, mid-80′s slider – especially compared to his struggles against lefties is only helped with the additions of southpaws Gonzalez and Gorzelanny.
2013 RtB Prediction: 71 G, 63.2 IP, 3-5, 3.94 ERA, 80 K, 31 BB, 1.3 WAR, no more frozen beards.
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