The Milwaukee Brewers struck gold by trading for Josh Hader. So far, he is arguably one of the best relievers in the game in 2018.
Earlier, I wrote about Josh Hader being really good. And if you follow Reviewing The Brew on Twitter, you will see us tweeting that he is really good. We all know it is true. Following his most recent outing, 25 of the 41 batters Hader has faced this season have struck out. He’s emerged as a top arm for the Milwaukee Brewers.
It is early, but Hader is proving to be leaps and bounds more dominant than last year. So, the question is, what is he doing differently? He added tattoos and dropped the glasses, but that is not enough help him average nearly 20 K/9 and just over two BB/9. Both numbers drastically better than last year. But again, it is early.
I mean, come on. How can he not dominate with flow like that?
Hader is approaching batters differently so far this year and it is paying huge dividends. The pitch usage numbers on Fangraphs show a dramatic difference so far this year. Clearly, Hader has a big fastball from the left side. But this year he is not throwing it as much. His 81.5 percent has dropped to 69.9 percent. That allows him to make his slider more prominent. The slider going from 11.3 to 28.5 percent.
I am not leaving out his changeup. That went from just over seven percent to just over one percent. That is a big part of it too. Hader’s changeup is consistently graded as his least valuable pitch. So by using it less, he is helping himself out more.
What Is The New Approach Doing?
A better question is what isn’t it doing. I already mentioned the strikeouts and walks, but it is more than that. By being able to hone in on the plate more and throw more strikes, his filthy stuff is showing through. All of his swing percentages are up and his contact percentages are down. That is a good formula.
Obviously, I am comparing seven games and 11 innings this year to 35 games and 47 innings a year ago. So this is not a truly worthwhile comparison. But something is very different this year. Hader’s 2018 WAR is already at 0.6. In five times the games last year, he got to 1.1. What does that tell you? This is a new and dominant pitcher.
No, Hader was a top lefty prospect before coming up last year. This is him growing into his own. If he can keep up this pace, which no one doubts that he can, he will be dominant. I just hope he is not ruined in the rotation.
Hader is a really good pitcher. Probably the best the Milwaukee Brewers have right now, and he is extremely valuable to the club. More than any of that, he is extremely fun to watch, and that is the point of it all, right?