Josh Hader channeled his inner Rollie Fingers for a fireman-style win
Josh Hader has been absolutely electric out of the Brewers bullpen since coming to the Majors in 2017. Not content to sit on his laurels, though, he has somehow found an even higher level this season.
Hader struck out 31 batters over his first 10 appearances, highlighted by a perfect two-inning save with five whiffs against the Mets on April 14. Then came his eight-strikeout dominance on April 30, when every out he recorded came by way of the K. In 25 innings, Hader now has a 1.32 ERA, a 0.77 FIP and an 18.4 K/9.
It's not just in the numbers, though -- Hader has simply looked unhittable. The Twins learned this on Saturday night, when he turned in another gem during the Brewers' 5-4 win, striking out six of the eight batters he faced in a 2 1/3-inning win.
Relievers don't typically go that long to finish a game anymore. However, Hader was on a roll, allowing him to complete the victory in vintage fireman style.
"I definitely felt really good today," said Hader to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. "Obviously, whenever we can get the days off, it helps. You know, we've been rolling, and we're just going to keep this momentum."
Based on Hader's outing, "really good" might have even been an understatement. But we'll forgive Hader for his humility.
All six of Hader's strikeouts were of the swinging variety, a performance that impressed Twins manager Paul Molitor. "It's hard not to be," he said after the game. "We've seen him a little bit in the past and obviously you know that his strikeout ratio is getting a lot of attention. If you're wondering about the new analytics, everything he does shows up in pretty high fashion.
"The numbers, they're plenty hard; 93, 95, but no one seems to be able to time it. I don't know how many swings and misses we had consecutively. When you know it's going to be a fastball and you still can't put the bat on the ball. It's kind of one of those things where he's got options out there and he chooses to use the guy for two-plus innings to close out the game. I don't know if anybody's struck out 200 people out of the bullpen before, but ..."
It was more of the same for Hader's teammate, Christian Yelich. "It's not really surprising anymore," he said. "He seems to do it every time he comes in the game, but it's special. He's been huge for us. It gives us, as an offense, that feeling that if the game is tied late, with our bullpen … we just have to find a way to push one across. If we do, we like our chances."
Hader's throwback performance hearkened to memories of yesteryear, when the likes of Rollie Fingers were the bullpen aces. In this 1974 World Series outing, for example, Fingers threw 4 1/3 innings to secure the win for the A's:
Of course, Brewers fans might more fondly remember Fingers from his later days in Milwaukee, when he kept up the lengthy relief outings en route to winning the 1981 American League MVP and Cy Young Award:
Hader is keeping the fire burning for the firemen of old.