It appears that the end of the road may have come for a former fan favorite Milwaukee Brewers’ pitcher. Jim Henderson, who was a shutdown setup man and closer for the Brewers from 2012-13, was quietly outrighted off the team’s 40 man roster yesterday. Henderson will continue pitching for the Brewers’ AAA affiliate, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. After the move, the Brewers’ 40 man roster now sits at 39.
The 32 year old right hander was selected in the 26th round of the draft way back in 2003 by the Montreal Expos. Henderson spent the first ten years of his career toiling around the minor leagues with three different organizations before finally breaking through to the major leagues with Milwaukee in 2012. Across 2012-13, the big Canadian right hander made 97 appearances for Milwaukee, posting a 2.98 ERA while striking out nearly 12 batters per nine and registering 31 saves. Henderson entered Spring Training 2014 as the closer, but dealt with a loss of velocity and inconsistent results throughout the spring, causing him to lose the closer role to Francisco Rodriguez on Opening Day.
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Things would continue to get worse for Henderson, who managed only 14 appearances last season with a 7.15 ERA before being placed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury in May. Jim never made his way back after that, eventually undergoing surgery that effectively ended his season. While fans had become accustomed to seeing Henderson as a flamethrower averaging over 95 MPH (and touching 98-99 MPH) during his first two seasons in Milwaukee, Jim struggled to top the 92-93 MPH range last year and lacked life on his breaking ball.
Coming back from shoulder surgery, Henderson again struggled with his velocity this spring. The decision was made prior to the season to have Henderson start the year on the disabled list, allowing him to complete a minor league rehab assignment to try and sort his stuff out. In six innings between Brewers’ A+ and AA affiliates, Jim gave up just one earned run, striking out eight batters against three walks. Things have been a little bit rockier since Henderson was called up to AAA, where has has given up four runs in 7.1 innings pitched, striking out seven while walking five batters. Henderson is still searching for his lost velocity, and has been sitting in the 90-92 MPH range throughout the season.
The Brewers made the move to activate Henderson from the disabled list a week ago, and they optioned him to Colorado Springs at that time. In outrighting Henderson, all other MLB teams declined to make a claim for him on waivers, which allowed the Brewers to clear a spot on their 40 man roster and keep Henderson in their minor league system. However, as I speculated all the way back in February, Jim Henderson’s time in Milwaukee is likely drawing to a close. Henderson has fallen down the depth chart to the point of being removed from the 40 man roster, and the Brewers have several younger, harder throwing, and more promising options to call upon in their system before recycling Jim back to the big leagues.
If this is the last we hear from Henderson, it would close the book on a Brewers’ career that spanned parts of three seasons. In 111 appearances covering 102 innings, he pitched to a 3.44 ERA and 3.21 FIP, striking out 137 batters while walking 41. Henderson collected 31 saves in 39 chances and he has been valued at 1.2 Wins Above Replacement for his career. He’ll continue to try and revive his career while pitching out of the bullpen in Colorado Springs.