Will Jim Henderson ‘save’ the Brewers bullpen… and their season?

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

John Axford pitching at Miller Park in 2011. {...

John Axford  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a season filled with disappointment, the Brewers just-completed three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds at Miller Park has to rank as one of the highlights of the season.

One of the reasons for this three-game mini-resurrection was the performance of relief pitcher Jim Henderson. The 29-year-old, 10-year minor league veteran saved the final two games of the series. Since his MLB debut on July 28, Henderson has two saves and a 1.29 ERA in seven innings of work with 10 strikeouts and only one walk.

Whether or not manager Ron Roenicke is ready to make the decision to cement Henderson in the closer role may not be imminent, but Henderson’s performance certainly gives the Brewers bullpen some much-needed hope as we approach the final seven weeks of the season.

Henderson became the fourth Brewers pitcher this year to save a game. In addition to Henderson, John Axford (18), Francisco Rodriguez (3) and Jose Veras (1) each have saved games for the Brewers this season. This is different from what we saw last year when Axford collected 46 of the 47 saves registered by the team in 2011 (Kameron Loe had the other save). Last year was the fourth time in team history that only two pitchers had saves during the season.

Following are the Brewers seasons when they had only two relief pitchers who saved games.

Season, Team saves (Pitchers with saves)

2011: 47 (John Axford 46, Kameron Loe 1)

2002: 32 (Mike DeJean 27, Luis Vizcaino 5)

1974: 24 (Tom Murphy 20, Eduardo Rodriguez 4)

1971: 32 (Ke n Sanders 31, John Morris 1)

There have been four seasons in Brewers history when the team had eight or more pitchers that collected saves in a season. The club record is 10, which happened in 1973. The other seasons with eight or more relievers with at least one save: 1980 (9), 1970 (8) and 1978 (8).

As was mentioned above, Axford had 46 of the 47 saves last season for the Brewers. With 97.9 percent of the saves in 2011, Axford tops the list of Brewers relievers who had the highest percentage of the teams saves in a season. There have been four seasons where one relief pitcher had 90 percent or more of the saves in a Brewers season and 11 times when a reliever had 80% or more of the team’s saves that year. The four with 90 percent or more:

Pitcher, year, saves, team saves, percentage

John Axford, 2011:  46 of 47 (97.9 percent)

Ken Sanders, 1971: 31 of 32 (96.9 percent)

Danny Kolb, 2004: 39 of 44 (92.9 percent)

Bob Wickman, 1999: 37 of 40 (92.5 percent)

Should Henderson stay in the closer role, he could, with 52 games remaining on the schedule, amass double-digit saves for the season. The Brewers have had 11 seasons where two relievers each had 10 or more saves for the team. Those pairs:

2010: Axford (24) and Hoffman (10)

2008: Torres (28) and Gagne (10)

2006: Turnbow (24) and Cordero (16)

2003: Kolb (21) and DeJean (18)

2000: Wickman (16) and Leskanic (12)

1998: Wickman (25) and Jones (12)

1990: Plesac (24) and Crim (11)

1987: Plesac (23) and Crim (12)

1986: Clear (16) and Plesac (14)

1985: Fingers (17) and Gibson (11)

1972: Sanders (17) and LInzy (12)

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

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