Milwaukee Brewers: Is it time to use Matt Albers as the closer?

Matthew Dewoskin
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 05: Josh Hader #71 and Yasmani Grandal #10 of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrate after defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on August 5, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 05: Josh Hader #71 and Yasmani Grandal #10 of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrate after defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on August 5, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Brewers reliever Matt Albers earned his third save of the year on Saturday night. Josh Hader has blown two of his last three saves. Should the team make a change?

Suggesting Matt Albers to close for the Milwaukee Brewers is not an idea that anyone would have had last year, and it’s probably not an idea the team should entertain in 2019, either.

Albers missed most of 2018 with shoulder and hamstring injuries. He was also ineffective on the mound as he posted a 7.34 ERA in 34 appearances in the Majors.

Josh Hader is one of the best relievers in the game, but he’s blown two of his last three save chances, and he’s allowed runs in each of his last three appearances. Is it time for Hader to hand ninth inning duties to someone else until he can get back on track?

How is Albers doing in 2019?

Good enough to be the ninth inning option when Hader isn’t available.

Albers has worked 51 times for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2019, and he has a 3.93 ERA. He’s racked up five wins, three saves, and seven holds coming out of the Brewers bullpen this year.

Why did the Brewers turn to Albers on Saturday?

Hader tossed 44 pitches on Friday night in 1 2/3 innings of work against the Rangers. He did pick up the win, but he was also tagged for a solo homer and gave up one hit, and a walk. The solo homer tied the game, and the Milwaukee Brewers needed a walk-off homer from Eric Thames to capture the victory.

Hader needed a night or two off after throwing that many pitches.

Is there a change in Hader’s velocity?

Nope. He was sitting in the 94-to-95 MPH range, and touched 96 once on Friday night. No concerns there.

However, the one concern is Hader’s workload. For a closer, Hader works a lot of innings. Hader threw 81 1/3 innings last year, and he’s on pace to throw 75-to-80 innings this year. He also often works more than one inning to nail down a save. The Milwaukee Brewers have been smart about his usage patterns, but we’re well into August. Everyone is worn down at this point of the season, especially a max-effort closer like Hader.

Should the Brewers make a change?

Not now, and probably not ever.

Next. What will Drew Pomeranz bring to the Brewers?. dark

Hader doesn’t have an injury, and he hasn’t suffered a drop in velocity. He has given up runs in each of his last three outings, but he has racked up six strikeouts compared to only two walks in his last 3 1/3 innings of work. He’s not ineffective. He’s just going through a rough stretch of games. As long as he is on the active roster and throwing 95 MPH, Hader will remain the closer. He would have to blow a few more saves before anyone else gets a shot at the closer’s role.

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