It has been a tale of two seasons for All-Star closer Josh Hader. The three-time National League Reliever of the Year had a perfect first two months with the Milwaukee Brewers. Since July started Hader failed to keep the success going which ultimately netted his trade to the San Diego Padres. Unfortunately, the new scenery has not helped Hader who continues to struggle mightily in the brown and gold.
Here is a look at how he started the season and what has transpired since.
A Perfect Start
The 2022 season began Hader’s sixth season in Milwaukee. In the previous five seasons, he claimed four All-Star game selections and three NL Reliever of the Year awards. He was an immense factor in the Brewers’ ability to reach the Playoffs in four straight seasons.
Hader closed out the 2021 regular season with 21 perfect appearances. In that span, he went 20.1 scoreless innings where he only allowed seven hits and 10 walks with 37 strikeouts.
He continued that success at the start of 2022. In his first 19 games, he went 17.2 scoreless innings only allowing four hits and six walks with 28 strikeouts. This gave him a perfect 18 for 18 in save opportunities to set a new MLB record.
He blew his first save on June 7th when he gave up two solo home runs to the Philadelphia Phillies. However, the rest of June was very solid. He finished the month with six saves in six appearances where he only allowed one run and struck out 11 hitters.
Based on this it appeared as though he was well on his way to another Reliever of the Year award, but the tides quickly turned.
A Jarring July
It would be rather misleading to simply state that Hader went 5 for 6 in save opportunities with 18 strikeouts. Despite still locking down most of the saves he did not prove to be entirely unhittable.
Over 11 appearances he went 9.1 innings where he allowed 13 runs on five walks and 16 hits, five of which were home runs. He allowed all 13 runs in six of eight outings between July 4-24.
The 13 runs in the month of July were the most runs he ever allowed in one month. His previous high was seven which he did in August and September of 2018.
The worst game of them all came on July 15 in San Francisco. Going into the bottom of the 9th the Brewers led the Giants 5-2. The inning started with a lead-off homer from Joey Bart before Hader recorded the only out of the inning. Darin Ruf followed with a solo homer to cut the lead to 5-4. The Giants then loaded the bases for Mike Yastremski who hit a walk-off grand slam.
Not surprisingly, this was the worst performance of his entire career. His previous high in runs in any outing was four which he did twice, on August 29, 2018, and September 12, 2020. Also, the most he’d given up in only a third of an inning was two runs which happened three times prior. Finally, the three homers were also a career-high for any single outing.
A Short Bounce Back
This kind of struggle after success is not totally uncommon. Each season it seems that he has one terrible month in the middle of the season before bouncing back.
In July 2021 he allowed six runs in only four of six outings. For the rest of the season, he only allowed two runs. 2019 featured a few more rough stretches including five straight outings between August 1-17. Following that he only gave up runs in two of his final 16 games.
After giving up a run on July 24 it appeared he might be getting back on track. His final two games for the Brewers were nearly perfect as he picked up a win and a save.
August started with Hader getting traded to the Padres in a blockbuster deal.
He began his time in San Diego with back-to-back excellent outings as he went two innings allowing only one hit and struck out three.
Following those four perfect performances, it has been all downhill for the new Padres closer.
Failing the Padres
On August 9th the Giants came into town. The Padres dominated the entire way and Hader came into the game with a 5-2 lead. Apparently, a 5-2 lead and the Giants are a bad combination for Hader who gave up one hit, one hit batter and three walks leading to three runs to tie the game.
It took a while before the Padres needed to call on Hader again. It was not until the Washington Nationals came into San Diego on August 18.
On the 18th the Nationals and Padres were involved in the ultimate pitchers’ duel. The game went into the top of the ninth tied at one. Starter Yu Darvish was having one of the best performances of his career as he attempted to go all nine. Unfortunately, he was removed after putting two men on and only getting one out.
The Padres had to call on Hader to try and keep the game tied. Instead, he hit his first opposing batter to load the basses and then on four pitches walked home a run. He allowed one more run to score on a sacrifice fly. Both runners were Davish’s responsibility so Hader did not have those charged to him, but it was his failure to command the ball that ultimately gave Darvish the loss.
The very next night featured a similar situation. The game went into the ninth tied at three. This time Hader was brought in immediately. The first batter he faced reached via the walk which has plagued his time in San Diego. Lane Thomas then hit a little dribbler next to the mound which Hader picked up and launched into the outfield. The runner on first scored and Thomas reached third base. The next batter, Alex Call, ended Hader’s day with a bullet for a two run homer.
The most jaw-dropping stat is that Hader has a 16.20 ERA since joining the Padres.
It has been an immense struggle for Josh Hader with his new squad. It is unfortunate that he is even in this situation. The Nationals are the worst team in baseball which means the Padres offense should be going wild, but that is not the case. Nevertheless, Hader has had more than ample experience getting outs in these situations and he just cannot seem to figure out his command.
Josh Hader has had an excellent career with the Brewers where he made himself known as one of the best pitchers in baseball. Unfortunately, he has fallen off the rails since the start of July and has let down both the Brewers and Padres during this stretch. The Padres are fighting for a National League wild-card spot and to claim one of those spots Hader needs to step it up.
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