All-Star Hader racking up Ks like few others before break

FILE - In this April 11, 2018, file photo, Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Josh Hader throws during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, in St. Louis. Haders most important role with the Brewers might be that he doesnt really have any defined role at all. Hader makes quick work of high-leverage situations, no matter when they occur. A humble, team-first attitude helps. So does a 95-mph fastball and filthy slider.(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

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

Player Year Age Team Ks
Goose Gossage 1977 25 PIT 95
Bruce Sutter 1977 24 CHC 94
Rob Dibble 1989 25 CIN 92
Scott Garrelts 1987 25 SF 89
Josh Hader 2018 24 MIL 85

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

Team Year Opp. BA
Cubs 2016 .135
Dodgers 1997 .148
Brewers 2018 .148
Dodgers 2003 .149
Cubs 2015 .149

Other notes:

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