‘He’s What We Call Nasty’: Rollie Fingers Breaks Down Hader’s Dominance 

July 20th, 2021

Earlier this month, Josh Hader tied a Brewers franchise record for a reliever while playing in his third straight All-Star game. 

The 27-year-old lefty is in the midst of arguably his best career year, boasting a 1.45 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP – both career best. 

The Brewers franchise is no stranger to excellence out of the bullpen – including Hall-of-Famer Rollie Fingers. The former closer, MVP, and Cy Young Award winner sat down with brewers.com to talk about Hader’s run and what makes the lefty elite.

“He’s what we call nasty,” Fingers said of Hader. “He reminds me of a miniature Randy Johnson. He throws just as hard.” 

Hader makes a living off his ability to generate swings and misses. 

According to Baseball Savant, he ranks in the 99th percentile or better in whiff rate, strikeout percentage, and expected batting average. So far this season, he’s struck out 64 batters in 37.1 innings – good for an elite 15.4 strikeouts per nine innings.

“Hader’s very intimidating on the mound because of his velocity, how he throws the ball, and his stride,” Fingers said. 

“In his motion, he doesn’t usually step right to the plate. He throws across his body … He’s almost throwing side-arm, and that can be very intimidating to a left-handed hitter, especially when you’re rushing it up there at 100 miles per hour.”

Hader throws his signature fastball 65 percent of the time with an average speed of 96.2 mph – including a 99.6-mph heater on April 1. The pitch has paid off for him, with opponents combining for an ice-cold .110 batting average against the pitch. 

“To a left hander, it almost looks like the ball is coming behind his back,” Fingers said. 

When batters key in on the fastball, Hader mixes in a slider that has generated a swing and miss over half the times he’s thrown it. 

“[The slider looks like] it breaks almost two and a half feet,” Fingers said. “He throws it on the outside part of the plate and it looks like it’s going to be right where you want it. Then, it just darts in on you, and you have no chance on it.”

During the shortened 2020 season, Hader led the National League with 13 saves. He already has 21 so far this year, tied for third in the NL. 

As the Brewers look to maintain their division lead in the second half, they’ll be counting on their All-Star closer to continue dominating hitters and locking down the end of games.