For the first time in his career, Jim Henderson will be the Milwaukee Brewers closer on Opening Day.
After spending ten years in the minor leagues, Henderson finally got the call in 2012 and ultimately took over for embattled closer John Axford. But he didn’t do much better – he saved only three games in seven chances.
Axford began the 2013 crusade as the closer with Henderson continuing to set him up. However, that was short-lived as Henderson once again took the reins from Axford – this time for good.
Henderson put up solid numbers in an otherwise unexciting season for the Brewers. He saved 28 games (four blown saves) and finished the season with a 2.70 ERA. His FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching which measures what a player’s ERA should have looked like over a given period of time, assuming that performance on balls in play and timing were league average) was 3.58. The league average was 3.87 in 2013. Additionally, Henderson struck out 11.25 per nine innings and held hitters to a .199 batting average.
There are some things to be concerned about, however. Henderson gave up 1.20 HR/9 while the league average among relievers was 0.87 HR/9. He induced a groundball rate of only 28.3% while the league average was 44.2%.
Nonetheless, Henderson is the Milwaukee’s ninth-inning man and, since the Brewers have no one else with closing experience, he’ll have an extremely long leash.