That approach produced Henderson's best outing by far of the young season on Tuesday night. He touched 97 mph on the Citizens Bank Park radar gun while retiring all three Phillies hitters he faced, including left-handed sluggers Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown on strikeouts, to finish a 10-4 Brewers victory.
Henderson, 28-for-32 in save opportunities last season, was pitching in a lopsided game since being removed from the closer's role before the first pitch of the regular season, following an uneven Spring Training in which Henderson's velocity was down in the low 90s.
Tuesday's outing was good enough, manager Ron Roenicke said, to move Henderson into the setup mix with right-hander Brandon Kintzler and left-hander Will Smith. Having three pitchers to cover the seventh and eighth innings when the Brewers lead is crucial, Roenicke said.
"Depending on what we see in the game, and how it matches up, if everything is right, yeah, [Henderson is in that mix]," Roenicke said. "Everything looked good. He looked relaxed, his rhythm was good, his command was good, he had good life on the ball."
"Hey," Henderson said, "it was only one outing. But it felt really good. When I hit my higher numbers, 97 or 98 [mph], that's max effort, everything timing up. You can feel it when you're out there. I usually throw those speeds when I'm ahead in the count, so I can really rear back for a little extra."
The only negative was that Roenicke had to choose Henderson over Rule 5 pick Wei-Chung Wang, who had yet to make his Major League debut after the Brewers' first seven games. Roenicke has been waiting for a lopsided game to work Wang in.
"We were trying to decide which one to bring in," Roenicke said. "I'm glad I brought Henderson in. We'll get Wang in there, but games that we win, we need Henderson to be a part of that."