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Hader makes it through MLB debut unscathed

Lefty admits the adrenaline was flowing in relief outing vs. D-backs
MLB.com @boomskie

PHOENIX -- Josh Hader has this whole Jacob deGrom thing going. Long, stringy blond hair flowing to his shoulders from beneath his Brewers cap.

One of MLB's top left-handed pitching prospects, Hader was called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Friday and made his big league debut in relief Saturday night in the Brewers' 3-2 loss at Chase Field.

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PHOENIX -- Josh Hader has this whole Jacob deGrom thing going. Long, stringy blond hair flowing to his shoulders from beneath his Brewers cap.

One of MLB's top left-handed pitching prospects, Hader was called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Friday and made his big league debut in relief Saturday night in the Brewers' 3-2 loss at Chase Field.

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He laughed when asked about the comparison to the Mets' tough right-hander.

"That's just the way I like to wear my hair," said Hader, who pitched a scoreless inning Saturday. "I call it 'the Josh Hader look.'"

Hader, the Brewers' No. 3 prospect (and No. 33 overall) according to MLB Pipeline, worked the seventh in relief of starter Junior Guerra. He faced five batters, walking two (one intentionally), and froze Jake Lamb looking for the final out of the inning with a 95-mph inside fastball.

"He had a good inning, for sure," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He got the first-batter jitters out of the way, and after that I thought he locked in and pitched very well."

As for his role with the team, Counsell said Friday he plans to use Hader in the bullpen for now but still projects him as a big league starter. Hader has made 97 starts in six Minor League seasons.

Video: Counsell on Hader's development

That plan suits Hader, a 23-year-old who was picked in the 19th round out of a Maryland high school in the 2012 Draft. It has been a lifelong dream to play in the Majors, and his first out was not disappointing even though it came in his first relief outing since 2015 at Double-A Corpus Christi.

"It was great, one of the best experiences I've ever experienced," he said. "It was a dream come true. That was one of the things I looked forward to, coming out and making my debut. In front of 40,000 fans, it was a pretty big adrenaline rush. I just can't explain it."

Hader had struggled at Triple-A this season, going 3-4 with a 5.37 ERA in 12 starts, but he had 51 strikeouts in 52 innings and was coming off a pair of scoreless outings when he got the call.

He has electric stuff. His fastball sits between 93 and 97 mph and is supported by a wipeout slider and deceptive delivery.

He showed every bit of his debut nerves, walking the first batter he faced, Gregor Blanco.

"It was more so the adrenaline, just trying to control that the first time out, trying to do too much," Hader said. "Once I was able to control that, I felt a bit better."

Two flyouts later, when a passed ball that soared past catcher Manny Pina moved Blanco to second, Counsell elected to intentionally pass Paul Goldschmidt and set up a lefty-vs.-lefty confrontation with Lamb, a .138 hitter against southpaws. Hader struck him out on three pitches.

"I faced him a little in the Minor Leagues, so I knew a bit about how to go about him," Hader said.

Now that first big one is out of the way.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter.

Milwaukee Brewers, Josh Hader