Hader Learning The Importance Of Economy

MILWAUKEEThrough his first six starts of the season, the only issue Josh Hader was having was pitch counts.

The 22-year-old lefthander was dominating the hitters he did face while pitching for Double-A Biloxi. And he was beginning to become more economical with his pitches.

But Hader logged only 29  innings over his first half-dozen starts, qualifying for a victory with the requisite five innings only three times. Accordingly, he was only 0-1 despite posting a brilliant 0.94 ERA with 40 strikeouts, 11 walks and 1.08 WHIP. Opponents were batting a mere .200 against him.

“We were careful with his pitch counts coming out of spring training,” Brewers farm director Tom Flanagan said. “He had some high pitch counts but he has been doing a better job of that lately. He has been throwing the ball great otherwise.

Hader was one of four players acquired last July from Houston in a trade for center fielder Carlos Gomez and righthander Mike Fiers. He quickly rose up the organization ranks with a solid showing at Biloxi (2.79 ERA in seven starts) as well as a eye-popping performance (0.56 ERA in seven games, 19 strikeouts in 16 innings) in the Arizona Fall League.

Hader had been projected by many scouts to be a lefthanded specialist in the majors, and his funky side-arm delivery indeed is devilish on lefty hitters. But with a plus fastball and slider, the Brewers believe he has the makings of a starting pitcher and see no reason to convert him to relief at this point.

“I want to pace myself to go farther into games,” Hader said in a interview with milb.com. “I had a little bit of a slow start where I wasn’t able to get past the fourth a couple of times but I was able to do six (in his fifth start).”

With a 12.56 strikeout per nine innings rate—best in the Southern League—few hitters were getting great swings against Hader. It was simply a matter of lengthening out his outings to keep him on a starting track to the big leagues.


• Lefthander Brett Lee, released by the Twins after six relief appearances at Double-A Chattanooga, signed a minor league deal with the Brewers.

• Righthander Jhan Marinez was acquired from the Rays for cash, while lefthander Michael Kirkman was released.

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