Brewers Josh Hader: Relief Ace Sleeper

Josh Hader was impressive for the Brewers in his debut season. But, could he be destined to be a fantasy sleeper in 2018?

The Brewers have been news by making huge trades and signings over the last few weeks. But, that does not take away from the already intriguing cast they have now. One of their more fantasy interesting players is reliever, Josh Hader.  After a dominant debut, could Hader be in line to be a fantasy relief ace in 2018?

It is amazing to think that a talented lefty like Hader would be have been traded once, let alone twice. Yet, Hader was dealt from Baltimore to the Astros in the Bud Norris deal and then sent to Milwaukee from Houston as a part of the Carlos Gomez deal in 2015.

Hader had found a ton of success in the minors leading up to his 2017 campaign at AAA. It seems almost backward, but Hader got roughed up in AAA to the tune of a 5.37 ERA over 12 starts. However, the Brewers decided it was time to get him acclimated to big league action, promoting him in June.

Once promoted, Hader took off. He posted a 2.08 ERA/0.99 WHIP over 47 innings out of the bullpen, striking out 68 while walking 22 batters. He was near unhittable, once again displaying the skill set that made him one of the best LHP prospects in the game.

The Brewers have already stated that Hader will start the year in the bullpen, with a move to the rotation down the line. But, for next season, Hader be one of the main set-up men to stud closer, Corey Knebel. Hader notched 12 HLD last season in limited time, so with the Brewers looking to contend yet again, Hader all of a sudden looks to be one of the top RP targets next season.

For those owners not completely sold, there are plenty of encouraging stats the deeper you go. The first being, just how nasty Hader is. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, with a wipeout slider, and changeup that is still coming along. All of this also comes with the fact that Hader’s delivery is funky as well.

In 2017, batters could only muster a .151 AVG versus his fastball, and .041 versus his slider. He found success versus RHH and LHH as well, with righties only posting a .165/.608 OPS line and lefties notched a .140/.454 OPS.

Hader has the strikeout stuff and misses bat at a great clip, but due to his funky delivery, he does battle bouts of wildness. At AAA last season, he was walking around five batters a game. That 14% clip will not cut it any level, and he did “lower” it to 12% during his MLB time.

While it is a small sample size, all in all, Hader only walked two batters during the last month of the season, and that came when he appeared during a  career-best 12 games. He also struck out 27 that month, so there are signs that when he can get his delivery repeatable, he can excel.

Whether it be as a lefty specialist, or in a flexible relief role, Hader holds immense fantasy value. Elite K numbers are what fantasy owners are looking for in RP selections. Hader possesses that, and owners know that he can throw multiple innings considering he has been a starter for most of his career.

Predicting HLDS leaders is a near impossible task. Yet, Hader profiles as a reliever that can do just that, and all for a price tag as one of the later picks of the draft. Make him a must have target.