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Milwaukee Brewers: How should they use Josh Hader?

Matthew Dewoskin
CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 30: Josh Hader #71 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws a pitch during 11th inning of the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on August 30, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Milwaukee defeated Cincinnati 2-1 in 11 innings. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 30: Josh Hader #71 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws a pitch during 11th inning of the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on August 30, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Milwaukee defeated Cincinnati 2-1 in 11 innings. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /
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There has been a bit of controversy over how the Milwaukee Brewers use Josh Hader. Should he only work one inning? Should he work multiple innings? Does he come in with a lead or in a tie game? How should the Brewers use Hader?

Josh Hader worked more than one inning in a single appearance for the 28th time this season on Labor Day against the Chicago Cubs. He gave up a go-ahead homer in his third inning of work, and probably won’t throw again in the series. Is this the best way for the Milwaukee Brewers to get the most out of their best reliever?

What do the numbers say?

They say that Hader works best in shorter outings, on shorter rest and in save opportunities.

Hader owned a 1.23 ERA in 32 games pitching in save situations. He’s also worked 12 times in non-save situations and owns a 4.60 ERA. Hader, like most high leverage relievers, gets better results when the game is actually on the line.

He’s also better off coming later in the game. When he works in innings 4-6, Hader has a 4.26 ERA. However, when he enters the game in innings 7-9, he has a 1.55 ERA. The Milwuakee Brewers have gotten this right for the most part. Hader has entered the game 37 times in the seventh inning or later. He’s entered the game earlier in only 14 games.

How many rest days does Hader need?

Hader actually gets better results when he works in back-to-back games than he does with one day of rest. When pitching on zero rest, meaning back-to-back games, Hader owns a 1.35 ERA, but he’s only been used like this six times this year. He’s worked eight times on one-day of rest, and has a 3.38 ERA. When he gets two days of rest he has a 1.96 ERA, with three days he has a 0.79 ERA, and with four days he has a 1.86 ERA.

Any other weird numbers?

Let Hader work with Erik Kratz. When Hader is on the mound with Kratz behind the plate, he has a 0.86 ERA in 21 1/3 innings of work. He doesn’t work quite as well with Manny Pina. His ERA with Pina catching is 3.69 in 34 innings.

How should the Brewers use Hader?

The numbers on Hader make him look more like a one-inning closer, than a multi-inning, high-leverage guy. However, it really depends more on the situation than anything else. Does it make sense to only use Hader once in a key series against the Chicago Cubs? Should he work multiple innings against the Minnesota Twins in July? The Milwaukee Brewers need to use Hader more intelligently if they want to get the most out of his innings.

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Having him work multiple innings early in a series means he probably won’t work again. That’s fine for a series against a last-place opponent in August, but it doesn’t make sense in an important series in September.

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