Josh Hader entered last season as arguably the top left-handed starting pitching prospect in the game, but he got off to a slow start at the Triple-A level as he struggled to harness his electric stuff. While he was not ready to join the starting rotation in 2017, the Brewers did decide he was good enough to pitch out of the bullpen and called him up as a reliever in June. The move turned out to be a stroke of genius, as he overpowered opposing hitters, particularly of the left-handed variety, who combined to hit .140 while posting just one extra-base hit against Hader. It's almost certain he won't be able to pitch in the same manner as last year, when he mainly needed only his mid-90s fastball to get opponents out, but his slider can be devastating as well. The Brewers will at least consider using Hader as a starter again, but his stuff may not play as well in that role, and the team could decide he is plenty useful as one of the best left-handed relievers in the league. That could maximize his value for the 2018 Brewers, but would also put a cap on his fantasy upside.
GM David Stearns said Friday that the Brewers are still evaluating whether to use Hader as a starter or reliever in 2018, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. One thing Stearns is confident about is that Hader "is going to be put in a position to accumulate innings," whether that be as a starter or a multi-inning reliever, which is no surprise given Hader's talent. While the Brewers will be looking to maximize his innings, and he was a highly-regarded starting pitcher prospect just one offseason ago, he did throw only 99.2 total innings in 2017 across all levels, so he'd probably have a cap on his workload even if he heads into the season as a starter. With that in mind, the Brewers must weigh if it's worth even trying Hader in the rotation, especially when considering just how dominant (12.84 K/9, .156 BAA) he was working in relief last year. With Hader facing a theoretical innings limit as a starter and not in the mix for saves as a reliever, he will likely be only a fringe option in standard league formats. However, even as a full-time reliever he would stand a good chance to hit 100 strikeouts while providing quality ratios, so he can still provide some sort of value in any role for fantasy owners and the Brewers alike.
Hader threw 1.2 scoreless innings in Monday's victory over the Pirates and allowed just one hit while striking out three batters. Hader allowed four earned runs over four appearances around the turn of this month, but he turned things around quickly, allowing just Monday's hit and one walk while striking out 13 batters in 7.1 innings over his last five outings. The Brewers will continue leaning on him as the top left-handed option in their bullpen as they push for the playoffs.
Hader threw a scoreless inning in Monday's loss to the Twins despite allowing a hit and issuing three walks. Hader was not sharp Monday and now owns 17 walks in 22.1 innings out of the Brewers' bullpen this season, but even in a subpar outing he was able to keep the opponent off the scoreboard. Hader, who does have 27 strikeouts and has given up just 10 hits, will continue working in a multi-situation relief role for the time being.
Hader threw 1.2 scoreless innings in a loss to the Phillies on Sunday, working around a base hit and a hit batsman. Hader did not record a strikeout Sunday, but he didn't give up a run for the 10th time in 12 big-league appearances. The rookie has 11 walks in 16.2 innings, so control has been an issue, and although he hit someone, he at least didn't issue a walk for the third consecutive outing Sunday. He now owns a 1.08 WHIP -- exactly the same mark as his 1.08 ERA. Expect him to continue working out of the bullpen for the Brewers, but Hader's long-term future is in the rotation.
Hader (1-0) allowed one run over three innings and recorded seven strikeouts to earn his first career win Friday against the Yankees. The 23-year-old relieved starting pitcher Junior Guerra in the fourth inning following a rain delay and produced his longest outing in the majors. The left-hander gave up his first run of the season on an Aaron Judge solo home run, but it was the only hit allowed. Hader now has a 0.73 ERA and 1.05 WHIP across 12.1 innings with 13 strikeouts since being recalled in early June, but he has shown some struggles with command and has issued 10 walks.