Searching for Saves: Does The Brewers’ Josh Hader Lose Value In 2020?

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In regards to Josh Hader’s usage in the 60-game season, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy recently said:

Counsell has explained many times that it’s not the innings that are at issue, it’s the back-to-back appearances. Experience says that Hader is most dominant when coming off a rest day, so the team developed a usage pattern of stretching him multiple innings and giving him days off in between. Considering he was the National League Reliever of the Year each of the past two seasons, I don’t see that strategy changing.

It’s not a surprise that the Brewers are going to stay the course with their plans for Hader, and while he’s going to remain “the man” the usage strategy is going to also limit his value.  Just how many appearances is he going to get?  He hasn’t reached 15 IP in a month since May 2018, and considering the multiple innings he often pitches we may be only talking about 20-22 appearances over 60 games.

The strikeout rate helps to buoy his value, with 281 K over the past two seasons, as well as a career 2.42 ERA and 0.85 WHIP.  However if you are looking for SV we have to realize that he’s going to have his limitations.

In 2019 Hader had 37 SV over 61 appearances, or a SV every 1.65 appearances.  At that rate over 20 appearances we are talking about 12 SV.  Is there going to be a 30 SV pitcher this season?  It’s highly unlikely (though not impossible), but would it be shocking to see some closers racking up 18+ SV (with as many as 25 not impossible)?

Hader is going to remain one of the elite relievers in the game, but his save total is obviously going to be appearance dependent.  With a limited number of opportunities, he’s going to take a hit.

As for who could get the opportunities when Hader is unavailable?  A healthy Corey Knebel will certainly be in the mix, with Freddy Peralta also in the mix.

Sources – MLB.com, Fangraphs

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