StaTuesday: The historical game and month for Brewers’ Hader

Josh Hader‘s relief performance against the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night wasn’t just amazing, it was historical.

As you might already know, the Milwaukee Brewers reliever pitched 2 2/3 innings in recording a save in the 6-5 victory and every out recorded was a strikeout.

Hader became the first pitcher in major-league history to record eight strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings. Previously seven relievers had eight strikeouts in nine innings. The last of those to do it was the Yankees’ Ron Davis against the California Angels in 1981. After getting Don Baylor to pop out to open the seventh inning, he fanned the next eight batters. Hader and Davis are the only relievers to face nine batters and whiff eight.

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The other members of the “3 IP, 8 K” club are John Hiller (1977), Rich “Goose” Gossage (1977), Terry Forster (1974, against the Brewers), Dick Radatz (1965), Ryne Duren (1959) and, most improbably, Paul Fittery (1914). Fittery stuck out just 13 batters in his other 40 2/3 innings that season and had only 34 Ks in 99 1/3 career innings. (Note: two starters also had eight strikeouts in three innings — Rich Harden in 2009 and Bruce Chen in 2000, but they each faced 17 batters.)

Hader became the first pitcher to record eight or more strikeouts and notch a save since Randy Johnson — one of his two career saves — in 1996. Overall, it was just the 17th time in MLB history that a pitcher had eight or more strikeouts while recording a save (note: the rule for a pitcher needing to go five innings to earn a win began to be enforced in 1950).

PITCHER DATE IP K
Tom Hughes 5/22/1909 6 11
Rube Marquard 5/3/1911 8 14
Hank Ritter 9/1/1915 6 8
Doug McWeeny 10/2/1921 7 8
Joe Page 7/6/1947 3.2 8
Ryne Duren 6/26/1959 3 8
Don Larsen 4/25/1962 4 8
Jim Merritt 9/10/1965 3.2 8
Moe Drabowsky 7/20/1966 4 8
Terry Forster 4/24/1974 3 8
Jim Kern 7/24/1979 4 9
Danny Darwin 8/16/1980 3.1 8
Ron Davis 5/4/1981 3 8
Ken Howell 4/24/1985 3.2 8
Bruce Ruffin 9/4/1993 4 9
Randy Johnson 8/13/1996 4 8
Josh Hader 4/30/2018 2.2 8

Hader’s performance was more than a one-game footnote. He’s been whiffing batters at an incredible rate all season.

He’s one of 11 relievers in MLB history who had at least a 19 K/9 rate and toss 10 or more innings, a list that also includes the Brewers’ Corey Knebel last year.

PITCHER MONTH IP K/9
Kenley Janesen Sept/Oct 2011 13.2 21.07
Edwin Diaz July 2016 11.2 20.05
David Robertson May 2014 11.1 19.85
Kenley Janesen August 2016 11.1 19.85
Byung-Hyun Kim May 2000 13.2 19.75
Josh Hader March/April 2018 18 19.50
Aroldis Chapman July 2012 14.1 19.46
Corey Knebel May 2017 12.2 19.18
Aroldis Chapman Sept/Oct 2013 10.1 19.16
Craig Kimbrel March/April 2014 10.1 19.16
Dellin Betances March/April 2016 11.1 19.05

As seen in the chart above, Hader is the only pitcher to have 19+ K/9 with 15 or more innings. In fact, only two other relievers have had a rate of 15 K/9 or better while tossing 15+ innings in a month, and both trail Hader by a wide margin. In September/October 2004, Brad Lidge fanned 17.22 per 9 in 19 1/3 innings while in August 1989, Rob Dibble fanned 15.10 per 9 in 19 2/3 innings.

You might say that Hader has been fan-tastic.

Dave Heller is the author of Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth’s Shadow (a Larry Ritter Book Award nominee), Facing Ted Williams – Players From the Golden Age of Baseball Recall the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived and As Good As It Got: The 1944 St. Louis Browns