This is a topic that will be beat to death this offseason until the Milwaukee Brewers decide what to do. But the fate of Josh Hader is a very interesting topic.
Hader might spend another year in the bullpen, or he might start. Nobody knows. The fact is, he is talented and he will be a major part of the pitching future for the Milwaukee Brewers. And that is a very good thing.
For a long time my argument would be to let Hader start. Having a lefty arm like his in the rotation is something that would do wonders. However, in the short time since he made his MLB debut, I’ve had a change of heart. Hader should not only be in the bullpen in 2018, but beyond.
For one, he is still reigning in his control. As a reliever he can get away with it, but that will expose him as a starter. That is not something the Milwaukee Brewers can have happen. But there are stats that dig deeper than the obvious that make him a bullpen candidate.
According to Fangraphs, Hader throws his fastball over 81 percent of the time. That is a ton to be seeing a lineup more than one time through. He has a dirty fastball, so as a reliever it works. Not to mention, he can ramp his velocity up in shorter stints, which makes it more effective.
As a starter he would need to conserve his arm more to get deeper into the game. Though he only saw 10 total hitters second time through a lineup, the batting average against does rise by about .100 points from the first time seeing them.
That is not a call to change his approach. Hader had an ERA in the very low two’s at the MLB level, no use in trying to change what is working.
It is also worth mentioning that in 26 total games over two seasons starting at the Triple A level he has an ERA over five. His record was 4-11. It is possible that he saw better talent at that level of the farm than he did in the MLB, but I doubt it. He seems more comfortable in a relief role.
General consensus would say that he will be in a bullpen role. In fact, at Reviewing the Brew we did a poll on Twitter on this very same debate. 96 total votes, and the winning option is bullpen with 64 percent of the vote.
I am not so sure it is that easy though. There is nothing in terms of offseason moves that could clarify the situation, yet. If focus is on the rotation, then that means Hader will not have space on the Milwaukee Brewers to start. Obviously he won’t be sent down, so that would mean bullpen. The same could be said for the other way as well.
All in all, I do anticipate a bullpen role for Hader in 2018. However, I think he will eventually join the rotation. While that isn’t detrimental, it is not the smart move to make.
Hader is an exciting player for the Milwaukee Brewers. His future is very bright, especially after 2017. If handled correctly, he has the potential to be one of the biggest names in the league. And I am confident that he will be.