Let’s get one thing clear, Josh Hader has the potential to be one of the greatest pitchers in Brewer franchise history. Without Josh Hader, the Brewers would not have been close to being in the playoffs in 2018 or 2019. People seem to forget that Hader is only 25-years-old and with young pitchers comes learning curves.
The reason I am writing this article is because of the unnecessary hate Josh Hader has been getting for his blown save in the NL Wild Card game. I’ve read things on social media like, “Hader can get the hell out of Milwaukee” and “I hope the Brewers trade Hader. He’s worthless.” These are the same fans who roasted Jeremy Jeffress for what he did in the 2018 Postseason without remembering he was the main reason they were in that position in the first place.
Now I’m on the side where I believe Counsell should have started Drew Pomeranz in the eighth and saw how it went before bringing in Hader but that’s not what happened and no amount of complaining will change that. For fans to see what Hader did and call for his head, that’s irrational.
Statistically, Counsell made the correct decision bringing Hader in to pitch the eighth in the biggest game of the season. During the regular season, Hader pitched 2 or more innings in a game 14 times and only gave up a combined 3 earned runs. Also, when Hader was in the 2-out bases loaded jam with left-handed, Juan Soto, at the plate, Counsell had the lefty on lefty matchup that any manager would want. Soto ended up rocking a single which was a statistical anomaly in its own right. Josh Hader faced 66 left handed batter during the season and only gave up a single to ONE of them until Juan Soto delivered for the Nationals. If you’re looking at the numbers objectively, Counsell made the correct move by pitching Hader and leaving him in. Josh Hader was the best pitcher on the Brewers during the 2019 season and I’m okay living or dying with him.
I know a lot of people have issues with Josh Hader’s blown save numbers, but that’s a problem every fan base has. For example, Josh Hader has had 13 blown saves in his first 3 seasons in the big leagues. To put that number in perspective, Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer of all-time, had 17 blown saves in his first three seasons as a full-time reliever. Francisco Rodriguez had 16, Lee Smith had 14, and Trevor Hoffman tied Josh Hader in blown saves after his first three years with 13. It just goes to show that even the greatest closers the game has ever seen have taken a few years to really become dominant.
Also, it’s not like Hader hadn’t improved in 2019 after his unreal 2018 season. His 2019 numbers were very similar except his SO9 went up and his WHIP went down. He only had 2 more blown saves in 2019 on far more save opportunities. When it comes to the rest of the league in 2019, Josh Hader tied New York’s, Aroldis Chapman, for 3rd in the entire league in saves only behind Roberto Osuna and Kirby Yates.
When it comes to the MLB’s closers, Josh Hader is already one of the best. A few bad outings, even though they were huge games, shouldn’t be the end all be all for his time in Milwaukee as the closer. I can think of 29 other teams who would be more than happy to take him off our hands which means it would be idiotic to get rid of him. Brewer fans will need to move on from the Wild Card game and let Hader develop into the lights out closer he’s going to be whether that comes with growing pains or not.