Milwaukee Brewers left-hander Josh Hader is fantastic in relief. However, if the long term goal is to have him start, when does he join the rotation? His path to a role with the starting five isn’t as clear as it once was.
Josh Hader is off to a better start in 2018 than Corey Knebel had in 2017. Hader is averaging over two strikeouts per inning. He has three saves and five holds in about a month of baseball. Hader has only walked four in 15 1/3 innings. Why isn’t he in the starting rotation?
The Brewers have too many starters
Currently, the Milwaukee Brewers have more starters than rotation slots. With the return of Wade Miley, starter Brent Suter is heading to the bullpen. Brandon Woodruff is already in the bullpen. That’s seven starters for a five-man rotation. If the long term plan is to work Hader into a starting role, there really isn’t a path to the rotation. The Brewers can’t find enough work for the current starters. How are they going to find starts for Hader? They aren’t. At least, not until they have an opening.
Hader is too good in his current role
Having a reliever that shortens games like Hader does is a huge luxury. If Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell wants to keep the opposition of the scoreboard for an inning or more, he can hand the ball to Hader. The lack of a clear platoon split means that Hader isn’t limited to a LOOGY role, and can be trusted to work more than an inning if necessary.
Hader is also on a historic pace for strikeouts by a reliever. 58.5% of the batters Hader has faced this year have struck out. Last year, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel lead the league in strikeout percentage for a reliever with 49.6%.
Should Hader move into the rotation this year?
As long as the Milwaukee Brewers are in the mix for a playoff spot, Hader needs to work out of the bullpen. They need a reliever who can keep the opposition off the scoreboard in the late innings. While the Brewers bullpen is off to a fantastic start to the 2018 season, they need Hader to continue to play a major role.
The Brewers have six relievers with ERAs under 2.00. That won’t continue for the rest of the year for most of them, but Hader will continue to rack up strikeouts and keep putting zeroes up on the scoreboard.
The long term goal for Josh Hader could still have him in the rotation, but it’s not going to happen this year. Hader is throwing at an elite level out of the bullpen, and the Milwaukee Brewers need him to continue in his current role. There’s also a lack of opportunity given the number of starting pitchers the Brewers currently have. The time may be right next year, but there isn’t an opportunity for Hader to start in 2018…yet.