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How San Diego Padres pitcher Josh Hader can shake his recent collapse

Rephael Negnewitzky

Approaching the trade deadline, Josh Hader had drawn interest from several teams in contention. The San Diego Padres were willing to surrender a heap of promising talent in return for their star closer. The deal was sealed and Hader immediately reported to San Diego.

The blockbuster consisted of Josh Hader which the Padres would compensate for by sending Taylor Rogers and Dinelson Lamet to the Milwaukee Brewers. San Diego tossed in an additional pair of prospects in Robert Gasser and Esteury Ruiz.

Hader was yet to allow an earned run through the first three months of the season. When June came around, the 28-year-old admitted his first earned run while holding opposing hitters to a .207 average.

July brought difficult times for the former 19th-rounder as his run total ballooned to 13 over the month. Although, the Padres were optimistic that he would pursue a similar avenue like the preceding three months when Hader swapped uniforms.

That has not been the case for the southpaw as his earned run average has reached its nadir of 6.52. Hader allowed six runs to the hapless Kansas City Royals in San Diego’s 15-7 defeat on Sunday. This was just the continuation of some absolutely disastrous performances from the All-Star closer.

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Josh Hader needs to relieve himself of demons

san diego padres pitcher josh hader
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

In Padres uniform, Hader is the owner of a 25.71 ERA over seven appearances. When the Padres acquired the All-Star reliever, they hoped that a fresh start would regenerate his prestige. That notion is the polar opposite of what the doctor ordered. He appears less focused and has trouble commanding the zone, with 6.48 walks per nine innings in the second half.

When Padres general manager A.J. Preller first contacted the Milwaukee Brewers’ front office to inquire about Hader’s status, his intentions were to supplement his bullpen with a bang. There were no complaints when addressing their current closer situation (Taylor Rogers: 28 saves), although Preller wanted to maximize the bullpen’s potential. Acquiring Josh Hader was Preller’s aspiration to provide depth to an injury-prone pitching staff.

The four-time All-Star needs to relieve himself of the pestering demons, and hit the reset button. The Padres will require every ounce of their staff for the final postseason stretch. Hader must be a part of it.

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Josh Hader’s pitch selection has endured a sudden change

Hader had no issues with his 96 mile-per-hour sinker in 2021. He executed the pitch from across his body which climbed the upper half of the zone. He held opponents to a .103 average while inducing a 40.5% whiff rate.

A recent concern has been identified by simple stats, which imply that Hader’s sinker has taken a toll. There’s no argument that his sinker isn’t a plus, however, as his numbers have shot up, the use of his sinker has increased. The lefty offered his sinker at a 66% rate in April which now sits at 71.2% in the month of August.

The velocity in his offering has ironically increased by two since the outset of the season. Although, Hader has claimed his sinker as his default pitch which hitters have slowly picked apart. In the month of August, his sinker has been pinned to a .429 opponent average.

It should be on Hader’s radar to tone down on his sinker and utilize his other weapons. His sweeping slider with depth has held hitters to a .235 WOBA, while his change up has a sample size of just 15 offerings.

Either way, Josh Hader’s most-recent outings adds more pressure to the mix as San Diego vies for a wild card spot in the National League over the next month-plus.