Milwaukee Brewers closer Josh Hader, to put it mildly, has been really damn good for the team in the closing role, but just how good?
The word dominant begins to describe it but do we really appreciate how dominant he is? Josh Hader has already received an award for his early dominance to begin the 2022 season, winning the Reliever of the Month award for April.
Josh Hader is record-setting dominant right now. Hader has opened up the season with 14 straight saves, converting all 14 of his save opportunities, the longest streak of consecutive saves to open up a season in Major League Baseball history. Three other closers in history had achieved 12 straight to open a season, most recently Jose Mesa of the Pittsburgh Pirates back in 2005. Hader is currently second in Major League Baseball to Taylor Rogers who picked up his 15th save Thursday, a day the Milwaukee Brewers were off before starting 18 games in the next 17 days.
Entering Friday, Josh Hader currently sits third in Major League Baseball in K%, the percent of batters he faces and strikes out, Hader has struck out 21 batters of the 48 he has faced, while he has walked five, he has surrendered just two hits. Josh Hader has only allowed seven baserunners and of the 14 games Hader has appeared in, only twice has he allowed more than one baserunner in a game, both in April and neither time did the tying run advance past second base, which is part of the reason Josh Hader currently owns a 0.00 ERA.
Not only is Josh Hader doing things never done at the Major League level, he’s also doing things he’s never done by his own pitching also, Monday against the Atlanta Braves Josh Hader threw 10 pitches that reached over 98 MPH, the most he had ever thrown that fast in a single outing, he struck out the side.
An impressive feat when you consider that just a couple years ago, Craig Counsell used to call upon Hader to throw multiple inning saves.
On May 10th, Josh Hader notched his 500th career strikeout, becoming the second fastest in Major League Baseball history to do so, needing just 293.2 innings to do so, barely behind Aroldis Chapman, who did it in 292 innings pitched.
Josh Hader currently has an active streak of 35 consecutive scoreless appearances dating back to July of last season, that is tied for the fourth longest such streak, the record is 40. Josh Hader’s 35 scoreless appearances and 33.2 consecutive scoreless innings are both the longest active streaks in Major League Baseball currently.
Josh Hader is also nipping at the heels of Milwaukee Brewers all-time greatness. On May 6th, Hader recorded his 107th career save, passing John Axford for second on the Brewers all-time saves list. Now at 110 career saves, Hader trails only Dan Plesac on the franchise leaderboard by 23 saves, which at his current pace Hader should pass sometime this summer.
One other crazy Milwaukee Brewer comparison to make, is to that of the 1981 season by Brewer legend Rollie Fingers. In 1981 Rollie Fingers won not only the AL Cy Young Award, but also the MVP Award. On his current pace Josh Hader will pitch fewer innings than the 78 IP Fingers pitched in 1981 and it may not be entirely realistic to think that Josh Hader finishes 2022 with his current 0.00 ERA. In 1981, Fingers struck out 61 batters and surrendered 13 walks, a 4.69 strikeout to walk ratio. In 2022, Josh Hader is on pace to strike out 89 batters and walk 21, a 4.24 strikeout to walk ratio, impressive totals when considering Hader is on pace to pitch about 22 fewer innings.
Rollie Fingers led MLB in saves in 1981 with 28, a small number that Hader could pass before the All-Star break but not far reaching to imagine Hader leading the league in saves in 2022. I understand that MLB has changed since Rollie Fingers was playing, back even before Josh Hader was born.
However, to ignore just how dominant Josh Hader has been for the Milwaukee Brewers would be tragic, greatness is literally unfolding before our eyes, recognize it Brewers fans, Josh Hader is currently on pace to be one of the greatest relief pitchers of all-time, will he keep it up? That remains to be seen, but I assure you we should all have our eyes (and ears) glued on the game when Craig Counsell calls Josh Hader to the mound.