The Mets are reportedly in on the sweepstakes to add Josh Hader to their bullpen. But there are good reasons to think twice before making a deal. Once burned, twice shy…
The Mets, without question, can use a Josh Hader in their bullpen. But they don’t need this Josh Hader. Unless they wish to have another Edwin Diaz on their hands, Brodie Van Wagenen needs to mull over a couple of things first, before succumbing to the reports signaling the Mets interest in Hader.
One, why in the world do the Milwaukee Brewers have Hader on the trade block? The same Hader who finished tied with Aroldis Chapman with the third-most saves in the league (37)?
Second, Hader is only 26, and he has four more arbitration years as a Super Two before he reaches free agency.
Again, why are the Brewers forfeiting that advantage, not to mention that Hader strikes out batters at a rate of 16 per nine innings pitched?
Mets at the precipice again…
There is a good reason why the Brewers are offering up Hader, and it’s the same reason why the Seattle Mariners traded Edwin Diaz, that year’s saves leader, to the Mets without blinking an eye.
Relievers are often overused and overworked. Members of the Yankees bullpen spoke up in protest after the fact of a discouraging postseason claiming that they were overused at the end of the season.
As careful as teams try to be, the growing tendencies and inability of starting pitchers to carry their weight often leave managers little choice but to go to their bullpen, and even more so when they have a gem like Hader or Diaz down there to call on.
Mets, so prominent on analytics?
Consider this, and the picture should become more evident. In 2019, Josh Hader made 61 appearances, with 23 of those requiring him to record more than three outs over 75 innings pitched.
One year, and it’s probably not an issue. But a look back to 2018 reveals the same trend regarding the Brewers’ use of Hader.
It’s even worse. Hader appeared in only 55 games in 2018 – BUT – he pitched a total of 81 innings. If you are counting, that’s 156 innings over the past two seasons, and apparently, the Brewers are paying attention to the probability of burnout on the way.
If the Mets need reminding, Edwin Diaz appeared in 66 and 73 games from 2017-18, pitching 66 and 73 innings, respectively, a total of 140 innings over two seasons.
The prevailing thought is that Diaz suffered mostly from “newyorkitis” last season and that he was out of sorts on a new team and in a new environment.
There is probably some truth there, but Van Wagenen and the Mets, if they dig deeper, may find that this kid was just plain tired and spent from overuse by the Mariners.
They knew of their evil ways, and they, just like the Brewers now, decided to part ways before the bubble burst.
Interestingly, the Yankees are reportedly in competition with the Mets on Hader. Don’t believe it for a New York minute. This is someone connected to the Brewers (wisely) looking to up the package price to land Hader.
There is nothing wrong with Edwin Diaz. You don’t forget how to pitch. And Diaz will likely ease back into a routine that will make him an integral part of the Mets bullpen in 2020.
But let’s not forget the pain and anguish endured by everyone connected to the Mets last year when Diaz squandered so much time and print with ill-fated ideas to “make him right” – when in fact, he may have only needed rest.
Like Diaz, Josh Hader can come here ready to continue doing what he does, which is to terrorize major league batters. But it’s a gamble and one the Mets have been burned on before.
Relievers burnout is the norm
Mariano Rivera, Aroldis Chapman, Trevor Hoffman, and Lee Smith are the exception and not the standard when it comes to a relief pitchers durability.
Look no further than Craig Kimbrel to see how the mighty have fallen, and so fast.
The same pitcher who once led the National League in saves four consecutive years is now the bane of the Chicago Cubs who have the misfortune of paying him $16 million in 2020, with only the hope he can bounce back from a disastrous 2019.
Kimbrel is older than Hader and Diaz. But the question for the Mets after having been slapped in the face by their acquisition of an overused Diaz is – are they willing to gamble that Hader is Lee Smith and not Kimbrel?
Brodie, live, and learn – right?
Brodie, this time do your homework. The answers are out there if you ask around and look for them about Josh Hader.
Your analytics staff should be able to tell you what I’ve just indicated.
Although Hader is enticing as a name can be and maybe worth the package you are presenting to the Brewers, is this the guy you want to roll the dice on?
Because once burned, twice shy should be the guiding principle of the Mets on this one.