Both Jeremy Jeffress and Josh Hader have had great seasons up to this point and were both All-Stars this season.
Through games of July 25, Jeffress has a 1.31 ERA in 48 innings pitched over 47 games. Hader has an ERA of 1.43 in 33 games and 50.1 innings pitched.
Neither will qualify for the ERA title in the league since that honor is based on 162 innings pitched for the season. But both have a chance to put their names on the list of Brewers pitchers who have compiled some of the lowest ERAs in a season.
If we base the lowest ERAs for the Brewers in a season on pitching 50 or more innings, Hader already has the second-lowest ERA in team history (of course, the season is not over). Here are the Brewers pitchers with the lowest ERA in a season with a minimum of 50 innings pitched. (Hader is not listed because the 2018 season is not over.)
Lowest ERA in a season (min 50 innings pitched)
1.04-Rollie Fingers, 1981 (78 innings pitched)
1.65-C.C. Sabathia, 2008 (130.2 innings pitched)
1.65-Paul Mirabella, 1988 (60 innings pitched)
1.66-Jerry Bell, 1972 (70.2 innings pitched)
1.74-Derrick Turnbow, 2005 (67.1 innings pitched)
If we change the criteria to games pitched instead of innings pitched, both Jeffress and Hader have a chance to climb near the top of this category. Here are the Brewers pitchers with the lowest ERA in a season with a minimum of 50 games pitched. (Jeffress and Hader are again not listed on because the season is not over.)
Lowest ERA in a season (min 50 games pitched)
1.74-Derrick Turnbow, 2005 (69 games pitched)
1.78-Corey Knebel, 2017 (76 games pitched)
1.89-Chad Fox, 2001 (65 games pitched)
1.90-Tom Murphy, 1974 (70 games pitched)
1.91-Ken Sanders, 1971 (83 games pitched)
For the record, the Brewers single-season record for lowest ERA in a season (minimum off 162 innings pitched) is held by Mike Caldwell… he had a 2.36 ERA for the Brewers in 1978. The second-best ERA is Teddy Higuera’s 2.45 ERA in 1988.
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Here’s some free advice for the Milwaukee Brewers marketing department: Get going on producing some t-shirts made for left-handed reliever Josh Hader. The slogan on the shirt should read…
“Don’t Be a Hader” … or… “Be a Hader”
Hader is certainly putting together a season that has never been seen in baseball history, let alone during the Brewers 50 years as a franchise. Through games of May 19, Hader has 56 strikeouts in the 16 games he’s pitched. Not all that impressive; but if you consider that Hader has 56 strikeouts in only 27.1 innings pitched, more than two strikeouts per inning, that’s pretty darn impressive.
Hader is on a pace to have just under 200 strikeouts (197 to be exact) over the season. Considering that Hader has compiled these gaudy numbers coming out of the bullpen as a reliever, it’s important to point out that no relief pitcher in history has ever had 200 strikeouts in a season.
Let me be more precise: The MLB record for most strikeouts in a season by a pitcher who did not start a game that year is 181. Dick Raddatz fanned 181 in 1964 for the Boston Red Sox as a reliever who did not start a game that season.
Here’s a look at the pitchers who fanned 150 or more batters in a season without the benefit of starting a game.
150 or more strikeouts/No starts
181: Dick Raddatz, 1964, Boston
166: Mark Eichhorn, 1986, Toronto
162: Dick Raddatz, 1963, Boston
157: Brad Lidge, 2004, Houston
153: Dick Selma, 1970, Philadelphia
151: Goose Gossage, 1977, Pittsburgh
The Brewers record for most strikeouts in a season by a pitcher who did start a game was set last year by closer Corey Knebel. He had 126 strikeouts. He is followed on this list by Julio Machado (98 in 1991), John Axford (93 in 2012), Will Smith (91 in 2015) and Tyler Thornburg (90 in 2016).
Will Hader break the MLB record? Will he shatter the Brewers mark? There are still a lot of games to be played this season. But I for one won’t bet against Hader. The Brewers and Craig Counsell have figured out a way to use Hader effectively and it is working. It’s definitely one thing I will keep an eye on as the season progresses.
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp