Milwaukee Brewers prospect Josh Hader was expected to reach the Majors for the first time during the 2017 season. However, he struggled in Triple-A and ended up starting his Major League career as a reliever.
After posting a 5.37 ERA through 12 starts at Triple-A Colorado Spring, Josh Hader earned a callup to the Major League roster. The Milwaukee Brewers desperately needed a left-hander to work out of the bullpen, and Hader was the best option in the organization. Featuring a mid-nineties fastball, a devastating slider, and an ‘in-progress’ change up, Hader made his Major League debut on June 10th.
How did Hader do in relief?
Well? The end of the year numbers are slightly skewed, but Josh Hader was fine in his first taste of Major League action. Hader ended the year with a 2.08 ERA in 35 appearances. He worked 47 2/3 innings and posted 68 strikeouts with 22 walks and four homers allowed. He worked seven consecutive scoreless appearances before allowing a run. That stretch included three appearances in which he worked more than one inning.
Hader also walked a batter in eight out of his first nine appearances, but he has the ability to pitch over walks with his elite fastball / slider combo. He also didn’t have a platoon split. He was, essentially equally effective against righties and lefties. Hader posted a .165/.259/.350 slash line against right-handers, and a .136/.296/.158 slash line against left-handers
Where will Hader end up in 2018?
Great question. The walks are a concern moving forward, but Hader won’t turn 24 until after Opening Day of 2018. He’s still harnessing his stuff, and the control will improve over time.
The Milwaukee Brewers probably still see Hader as a starting pitcher down the line, but he may still work out of the bullpen in 2018. Zach Davies, Chase Anderson, and Brandon Woodruff will hold down the first three slots in the Brewers rotation. After that, Brent Suter is an option, and the team is likely to add a few arms before pitchers and catchers report. Hader could work his way into a starting role as soon as next year.
The next question is ‘should he start?’, and the answer is fairly simple. If Hader shows progress with his change up, he starts. He needs the third pitch that he can throw for strikes to succeed in the rotation. If not, he’s a quality left-handed set up guy for Corey Knebel. However, he could develop into a closer if Knebel moves on. Either way, Josh Hader is set to be a key member of the Milwaukee Brewers pitching staff for several years.