Josh Hader’s July struggles continue as Brewers close in on three home runs in loss to Giants

The San Francisco Giants snatched victory from the jaws of defeat Friday night with a stunning six-run, ninth-inning comeback against the Milwaukee Brewers to win 8-5. Mike Yastrzemski capped off the rally with a walk-in grand slam. It was San Francisco’s first home run since Aug. 25, 2020. Almost two years ago.

Here’s the three-home run, six-run round nine rally:

Note that all three home runs and six runs came against the Brewers’ closest, Josh Hader, arguably the best reliever in the sport. Lately though, Hader has been anything but. Friday’s slump was the fifth time in six appearances Hader allowed a run, and he’s allowed four home runs to the last eight batters he’s faced. It seems impossible for a guy with his stuff, but it’s true.

Here are Hader’s last six appearances:

4th July

against the cubs

1

2

1

1

0

2

1

July 6

against the cubs

1

1

1

1

1

2

0

July 8

against pirates

1

2

1

1

1

2

0

July 12

at Twins

1

0

0

0

0

3

0

July 13

at Twins

0

2

3

3

1

0

1

July 15th

among the giants

1/3

5

6

6

0

0

3

Total

4 1/3

12

12

12

3

9

5

Prior to those six games, Hader had a 1.05 ERA and held batters to a .125/.196/.225 batting line for 25 2/3 innings. He now has a 4.50 ERA and an opposing batting line of .204/.280/.434 in 30 innings.

“It was fastball tonight,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell told MLB.com after Friday’s loss. “They jumped on fastballs. I think we have to get to work and try to help him. Location is always something that’s obviously important. He lived with a great fastball. Hitters know that “a fastball is coming, and it’s been dominating. I just gotta get a look at it and get it right.”

Hader, an All-Star this year for the fourth time in six major league seasons, confirmed he was healthy after Friday’s collapse. He attributed his recent troubles to poor execution, and, yes, that’s definitely one of them, though it’s worth noting that his fastball smell rate is the worst of his career, at 33.3%. It’s usually up around 40 percent. The hitters are taking great tears against what has been one of the best fastballs in the game in recent seasons.

“I think it’s just the executing part of the throw. I don’t think it’s anything big. I think it’s the ‘finishing’ part of the throw. If you can execute the throws you need to do and limit mistakes, you’re going to put yourself in a better position,” Hader said after the missed save. “I feel like I’m trying to feel things I don’t need and I’ve lost the aggression I normally have. So it’s just little things. But I just have to move on. something else and bring it tomorrow.”

headshot-image

It should be noted that Hader has had bad times like this before, but not quite. wrong. Last July, he allowed six runs and three homers in 5 2/3 innings spread over six appearances. In 2020, he allowed seven runs in 4 1/3 innings spread over six games. In 2019, Hader had a protracted slump in which he allowed 13 runs and seven homers in 16 innings spanning 15 appearances. Hader has done stuff like this before. He has shown that he can overcome crises and become dominant again.

That said, a troubled reconciliation could sink a team in a race for the division title. The Brewers have an elite setup man in Devin Williams (1.77 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings) and could put him in the closer role a bit, just to relieve Hader and allow him to reset into something else. than high leverage situations. It doesn’t have to be permanent. Once Hader is on the right track, he can come back on the close, because when he’s dominant in the ninth, the Brewers are at their best.

Big relatives have bad times all the time — Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera had a bad week in April and a bad week in August every year, like clockwork — though Hader’s current bad time is worse than the most, plus it’s little more than just a bad week. I’m not sure the Brewers and Hader are panicking yet. There are, however, red flags. His fastball is hit very hard. Hader has shown he can self-correct when he slumps, and Milwaukee needs that to happen soon.

“He’s looking to pitch, and he’s not pitching a lot right now. He’s just looking to pitch,” Counsell told MLB.com. “…It wasn’t a good night. We have to get to work and see what’s going on, and try to help him fix it.”

About Marc Womack

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