Although Brewers left-hander Josh Hader worked through the minor league ranks as a starting pitching prospect, he has served exclusively as a reliever since making his MLB debut last year. That’s OK with Hader, who has emerged as one of the game’s most dominant bullpen weapons during his 57 1/3-inning career. “I like the idea of coming out of the bullpen and attacking hitters,” he told Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “That plays to my strengths a little bit better.” Hader added that “being able to come in 1-2 innings every other day, that keeps me in shape and keeps my pitches more intact” (Twitter links). It’s hard to argue with the results – a 2.04 ERA with 14.13 K/9 against 3.92 BB/9. The 24-year-old is averaging upward of 20 strikeouts per nine early this season, thanks in part to his five-K performance against the Mets over two perfect innings on Saturday. Hader earned the first save of his career in that outing.
More from the Central divisions…
- With Gio Urshela nearing a return from the disabled list, it’s likely the Indians will soon have to decide between him and fellow out-of-options infielder Erik Gonzalez, Ben Weinrib of MLB.com writes. Attempting to send either Urshela or Gonzalez to the minors would leave that player exposed to waivers. Cleveland has been able to put off an Urshela-Gonzalez choice since last month because of the right hamstring strain the former suffered, but he started a rehab assignment Friday and is on track to come back within the next couple weeks. If the Indians make this call based on career offensive production, the edge goes to Gonzalez. While he’s only a .250/.275/.386 hitter in 139 plate appearances, that easily outdoes Urshela’s .225/.273/.314 line in 453 PAs.
- More on the Indians, who tried to bolster their World Series chances last year with a J.D. Martinez deadline addition. They were in on the slugging outfielder before the division-rival Tigers shipped him to Arizona in mid-July, Paul Hoynes of cleveland.com reports. The Indians ultimately ended up getting fellow outfielder Jay Bruce a couple weeks later in a deal with the Mets, and while he was effective in Cleveland, Martinez was otherworldly in regular-season action with Arizona. Still, the Martinez-less Indians managed a ridiculous 22 consecutive victories from late August through mid-September en route to a 102-win campaign. Further, it’s anyone’s guess whether Martinez would’ve made a bigger difference in their five-game ALDS loss to the Yankees than Bruce, who slashed .278/.333/.667 with two home runs in 18 at-bats. Martinez, now with the Red Sox, ended his short D-backs career with a .267/.313/.467 line and a homer in 15 ABs in their four-game NLDS loss to the Dodgers.
- Reds outfielder Scott Schebler, on the DL retroactive to April 6 with a right elbow injury, is slated to play in a Triple-A rehab game Sunday, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com relays. If that goes well, it’s possible Schebler will rejoin the Reds on Monday, according to manager Bryan Price. Meanwhile, reliever David Hernandez is getting close to embarking on his own rehab assignment, per Sheldon. The Reds signed Hernandez to a two-year deal in free agency, but right shoulder inflammation has kept him from debuting with the club.