Josh Hader was roughed up in his most recent appearance (to the tune of two seventh-inning home runs), but the Milwaukee Brewers‘ All-Star reliever is still having a first half for the ages.
The 24-year-old has registered 85 strikeouts so far this season while pitching exclusively in relief, more than all but two Brewers starters, and leads the team at 16.5 Ks per nine innings.
Such numbers are rare at his age amongst “pure” relievers. Hader’s 85 strikeouts are the most by a reliever under age 26 with no starts before the All-Star break since 1989.
With five games to go in the first half Hader still has time to gain ground on the leader: Hall of Famer and nine-time All-Star Goose Gossage, who fanned 95 before the break in 1977.
Pitchers under 26, Most Ks w/0 starts pre ASB – All-Time
*Age as of July 1 that season
Hader has been downright nasty when he gets to two strikes. He’s held opponents to just .028 in such scenarios this season, and it’s part of a larger trend for the Brewers’ staff. They’ve held opposing hitters to .148 with two strikes, tied for second in the National League in any season since 1988.
NL, lowest opponent BA with 2 strikes – Since 1988
*STATS began tracking pitches in 1988
— Lorenzo Cain has adjusted his approach at the plate since his last All-Star selection in 2015. Cain has walked 46 times so far this season after walking just 22 times prior to the 2015 All-Star break.
— The Brewers will need him against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Pittsburgh has 10 shutouts this season, while starting pitcher Jameson Taillon has a 0.97 WHIP, tied for fourth-lowest in the NL Central.
— Brewers starter Wade Miley has a career 1.64 ERA in three starts and 22 innings pitched at PNC Park.
— The Pirates have been better across the board since catcher Francisco Cervelli returned from the disabled list. They’re 32-25 with Cervelli in the lineup, and just 11-24 when he’s out.
Statistics courtesy of STATS