Jim Henderson: Brewers Season in Review


Apr 15, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Jim Henderson (left) walks off the mound as St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday (right) runs the bases after Holliday hit a solo home run in the ninth inning at Miller Park. The Cardinals beat the Brewers 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

RH Relief Pitcher

2014 Salary: $512,000
2015 Outlook: Pre-Arb 3

If Jim Henderson didn’t have bad luck, he wouldn’t have any luck at all.

The Calgary, Alberta native was drafted by the Montreal Expos (how many of you remember them?) in the 26th round of the 2003 Amateur Draft. He made stops in ten minor league cities in four organizations before he got called up to Milwaukee in late July 2012. He made eight trips to the disabled list in his minor league career, never seeming to get a break.

He broke through in his second big league season, appearing in 61 games, earning 28 saves while occupying the closer’s role the majority of the campaign. All signs were pointing to stardom in 2014.

Then came Spring Training, when he suffered an inexplicable loss of velocity, and a subsequent loss of the ninth inning spot to Francisco Rodriguez.

Henderson pitched mostly in the eighth inning of games, trotting in from the bullpen 13 times in the month of April. His numbers were decent: 10 2/3 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 16 K.

Then with one May outing, his entire season turned upside-down.

Entering a 3-3 game in the bottom of the eighth in Cincinnati, Henderson melted down, allowing four hits and five earnies in two-thirds of an inning, taking a hard-luck loss in the 8-3 final.

The thirty-one-year-old went on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. The Brewers were initially optimistic that the hard-throwing righty would return in late May, but numerous bullpen sessions proved otherwise. He received a cortisone shot in late May and made a rehab appearance for Huntsville on May 23 and had a great outing, whiffing a pair in a 1-2-3 inning.

But once again, he felt discomfort and was shut down, not pitching in a game until early July.

He pitched three games for Arizona in the Rookie League and did well, moving up to AA Huntsville. Henderson had a pair of solid outings, and then moved up to AAA  Nashville for three appearances. Everything looked good on the surface, but he was bumped to 60-day D.L. and in mid-August, Henderson underwent season-ending shoulder surgery.

The surgery involved clean-up of the labrum and rotator cuff, with the recovery expected to take four months.

(Note: I had the same surgery on my non-throwing shoulder a few years back– performed by the same surgeon that had Patrick Swayze as a client–and made it back in three months, so Henderson should be fine.)

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2015 and Beyond

‘Hendu’ is a Pre-Arb 3, so the Brewers are in control of the salary story. He should, if Milwaukee chooses to re-sign him, make about half-a-million in 2015.

Henderson has a track record of doing well in the majors, albeit only for a year and change. That said, there is no reason he can’t come back healthy and become a productive member of the late-inning bullpen crew.

His fourth month rehab should be finished by the time Milwaukee reports to Spring Training in February.

With K-Rod likely to move a few miles south to U.S. Cellular Field next year, a healthy Henderson could very easily compete for the closer’s role in Ron Roenicke‘s bullpen.

The Brewers could have an enviable late bullpen featuring Will Smith, Jonathan Broxton, Jeremy Jeffress, Tyler Thornburg, and Henderson.

Just think how cool that would be!