Hader logs 18th save ... 6 hours after his 17th

May 31st, 2022

CHICAGO -- Brewers left-hander Aaron Ashby set career highs for strikeouts (12) and pitches (100) while working into the seventh inning for the first time as a Major League starter on Monday night at Wrigley Field, but his treatment regimen in the clubhouse would have to wait. Josh Hader was trotting in from the bullpen for the second time in six hours with a chance to slam the door on the Brewers’ doubleheader sweep of the Cubs, and Ashby wanted to watch in person.

Even for teammates, this is must-see stuff.

“It’s history every day,” Ashby said. “It’s unbelievable what he’s doing right now. He’s coming out here, sustaining his velocity, sustaining his stuff. He’s one of one.”

After throwing 16 pitches for his 17th save in a 7-6 Brewers win in the opening game on Monday, Hader needed 13 pitches for his 18th save in a 3-1 Brewers win in the nightcap to become the first pitcher in MLB this season to complete the feat.

Seven pitchers in Brewers history have logged saves in both ends of a doubleheader, including Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers twice. The last was Jim Henderson in 2013. Today, he is the Brewers’ bullpen coach.

Henderson and Hader represent two of the 26 occurrences of two-save days since 2010, but Hader is just the third since 2019. White Sox closer Liam Hendriks and the Padres’ Mark Melancon both did it in '21.

“The first game wasn't too bad. It was a little bit longer than normal, but good enough to where I felt like I could bounce back and get after it,” Hader said.

Somehow, a three-time National League Reliever of the Year is better than ever. Hader has yet to allow a run in 16 2/3 innings. Opponents are 4-for-55 against him, with six walks and 26 strikeouts. He has pitched 18 times this season and has 18 saves, a Major League record (the previous mark was 12 appearances, 12 saves to start a season).

Rest helped make Monday’s double duty possible. Entering Monday, Hader had pitched six times in May after recovering from a minor bout of back tightness, with multiple days off between each outing. He’d pitched only once in the first seven games of the Brewers’ current 11-game road trip, in part because he missed the San Diego leg in order to remain home in Milwaukee with his wife, who is enduring a difficult pregnancy. Hader rejoined the team in St. Louis and converted his only save chance in that series.

“After a few hours [following Game 1] I got some work done, flushed the system out, relaxed and felt good enough,” Hader said. “I think it's hard to really tell how you feel at that point but you just have to get out and do it if you can.”

Hader topped out at 98.3 mph in the first game and 98.9 mph in the nightcap. Brewers manager Craig Counsell described it this way: “It’s just Josh.”

“It’s a heck of a feat and it’s doing a little something extra for the guys when they need it, as a couple guys did today,” Counsell said. “That’s what the team's all about. Sometimes you have to do a little extra and Josh did a little extra today.”