The Milwaukee Brewers called up top prospect Josh Hader, but the plan is to use him out of the bullpen. Hader has worked his entire career as a starting pitcher and the Brewers have been reluctant to put him in the bullpen. Why the sudden change?
Why Call Hader Up Now?
Josh Hader was called up now because he’ll avoid becoming a ‘Super-Two’ player. Players who receive the ‘Super-Two’ designation are eligible for arbitration before reaching three years of service time. This is a situation that the Milwaukee Brewers are wise to avoid. It means that Hader will be on a minimum contract until 2020, and won’t be eligible for arbitration until 2023.
Hader Must Be Dominating Triple-A Right?
Not really, no. He posted a 5.37 ERA with 51 K’s, 31 walks, and 14 homers allowed in 52 innings. It’s clear that he was given very specific instructions on what he needed to work on, and treated his Triple-A games as a chance to practice and improve. He has the pure stuff and attitude to make it on a Major League pitching staff, but needs further development as a starter.
Why Put Hader In The Bullpen?
His delivery lends itself more toward relief work than starting games. He tends to come across his body with his delivery, and his arm angle is generally around a 3/4 slot. Hader also adds deception by hiding the ball from hitters until just before his release. Starting pitchers usually have quieter mechanics.
He still has to develop his secondary pitches. Until that happens, he’s unlikely to earn a spot in the Brewers rotation. His excellent fastball and Major League-caliber changeup mix means he can be effective in limited appearances.
His slider is the pitch that needs more development. Hader is unlikely to be an effective starter at the Major League level until his slider gets worked out. He could also ditch the slider entirely and just stay in the bullpen.
No matter how Hader is used, it’s likely that he’s at the Major League level to stay. The Brewers needed another lefty in the bullpen, and Hader is capable of making hitters miss in short appearances. He would likely be a disaster as a starter at this point in his development.