PITTSBURGH -- It was a record-setting kind of night for Milwaukee reliever Josh Hader in the Brewers' 8-3 win over the Pirates on Friday night at PNC Park, though it certainly wasn't out of the ordinary.Staked to a four-run lead, the left-hander struck out three Pirates hitters, induced a popout
PITTSBURGH -- It was a record-setting kind of night for Milwaukee reliever Josh Hader in the Brewers' 8-3 win over the Pirates on Friday night at PNC Park, though it certainly wasn't out of the ordinary.
Staked to a four-run lead, the left-hander struck out three Pirates hitters, induced a popout and handed the ball over to the next reliever, just like he has all season. But his ability, consistency and durability over 77 innings has combined to make Hader's 2018 one of the best seasons ever from a left-handed reliever.
Over his past five outings, Hader recorded 16 consecutive outs via strikeout, an MLB record in the expansion era. Mitch Stetter set the previous mark of 15 with Milwaukee in 2009. Hader's streak was snapped on the final out of his 1 1/3 innings, a lazy fly ball caught by center fielder Christian Yelich in the bottom of the seventh. Still, it's safe to say Hader is on a roll as the Brewers continue the hunt for a postseason spot.
"The superlatives with the way he's thrown the ball all year, he's never stopped to amaze us, really," Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. "He's in a run right now."
Hader has now struck out 136 batters, a Major League record for a left-handed reliever, surpassing the mark of John Hiller, who struck out 134 with the Tigers in 1974. Not only did Hader pass Hiller's mark, he did so in just 77 innings, compared to Hiller's 150 innings.
"I think it's definitely a great accomplishment, being able to pitch up here and being so consistent," Hader said. "That was one of the things coming into the season for me, just really trying to be consistent with my delivery and my pitches."
Recently, things have been going better than even his 1.99 ERA suggests.
Hader is only 24 years old, and was a starting pitcher throughout his Minor League career. That, combined with his success, has left plenty of room for speculation that he might end up in the Brewers' starting rotation at some point, but for now, he's content to take the ball when it's given to him, hopefully deep into the postseason.
"Just trying to help the team any way I can in whatever fits best for me," he said. "That's what I have to roll with and what I will roll with."
Alan Saunders is a contributor to MLB.com based in Pittsburgh.