Hader becomes fastest to 400 career K's

May 9th, 2021

When he retired Marlins outfielder Corey Dickerson on a foul tip Saturday night, became the fastest pitcher in history to 400 career strikeouts.

Then he became the fastest to 401. And then he became the fastest to 402.

Hader struck out the side in the ninth inning at loanDepot park to cap the Brewers’ 6-2 win by doing what he does best. It took him just 234 2/3 career innings to get to No. 400, breaking the mark previously held by Craig Kimbrel (236), who had set it in 2014.

The milestone was meaningful to Hader.

“A lot of guys have played this game that are really, really great, and I just grew up watching,” Hader said. “For me to be in the position I’m in to play the game itself and break a record like that is pretty special.”

After Kimbrel, the next-fastest to 400 were Aroldis Chapman (237 2/3 innings) and Edwin Díaz (249).

Hader is off to a fantastic start in 2021. His ERA stands at 0.77 in 12 appearances, and he has seven saves.

Even more striking, though, is what he’s done over the length of his career. He’s only 27 and collected his 401K long before his retirement years. Converted from starting to relief work in the Minors after Milwaukee acquired him from Houston in the 2015 Carlos Gómez trade, he’s become one of the great modern-day bullpen weapons. Hader's career strikeout rate is an incredible 44.4 percent of batters he's faced. His triple-digit fastball and biting slider have confounded hitters since he made his MLB debut in 2017.

“We’re witnessing a pitcher who’s doing incredibly special things,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Because we’re now four years into it, at times I think you. … I don’t want to say take it for granted, but you consider what he does, and, although you expect it, you’re amazed by it still. That’s the best way I can say it. Even a night like tonight, it doesn’t go unseen that he struck out the side. It is really incredible. He’s a special pitcher and we’ve been lucky to have him. He’s been a huge part of our success over the last couple years.”

With the Brewers in a six-game losing streak entering Saturday, Hader hadn’t pitched in a week. But he looked plenty sharp and wasted no time breaking Kimbrel’s record.

“You see the names he passed, and it’s incredible,” said teammate Kolen Wong, who faced Hader both in the Minors and with the Cardinals. “He’s one of the hardest to face, lefty or righty, it doesn’t matter. To get to 400 the fastest of anybody in the Majors, that’s an incredible accomplishment. Just proud he’s on our team.”

Hader was proud to have a keepsake from the occasion.

“This is the special ball,” he said, holding it up to the camera on a Zoom call with reporters, “that’s going to be going up in the man cave.”