Josh Hader has turned his season around to vindicate Houston’s decision to sign him

Josh Hader is on a roll.
Houston Astros relief pitcher Josh Hader (71) reacts
Houston Astros relief pitcher Josh Hader (71) reacts / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Were you a fan of the Josh Hader signing this offseason? It's OK if you weren't as there were a number of mixed emotions linked to signing the former San Diego Padres closer. Kendall Graveman had been declared out for the season and the Astros seemingly decided that bolstering the back end of the bullpen was much more important than maintaining quality depth.

The signing also shifted longtime Houston reliever and postseason hero Ryan Pressly into foreign territory, as the 2024 season would see the right-hander working as the Astros setup man rather than the team's closer.

The start of this season seemed to favor those who failed to see the point in bringing in an elite closer like Hader, but of late, the left-hander has begun to shine and is showing the Houston faithful just how valuable he can be.

Josh Hader has turned his season around to vindicate Astros' decision

There was much talk prior to the season about Hader's usage in 2024. Historically, the southpaw was only a one-inning pitcher. Hader, who made 25 multi-inning appearances in 2019, hadn't thrown more than one inning of relief since 2020.

But Hader has broken that mold in 2024. The lefty had always maintained that his one-inning mandate was a result of the arbitration processa system that Hader disagrees with — and once he received a long-term contract, Hader would then be more amenable to working multiple innings.

Hader has done that this season, as he has worked four multi-inning games in 2024. Since his first multi-inning outing on April 30, Hader has 23 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings pitched and owns a 1.26 ERA and 0.75 WHIP. Those are the types of numbers that justify Houston shelling out $95 million over five years.

Prior to this recent stretch, Hader was catching a lot of criticism, and rightfully so. In his first 12 games with the Astros, Hader was 0-2 with a blown save and a 7.59 ERA. The opposition was teeing off on him, hitting nearly .300.

But Hader looks much more comfortable at this stage of the season. Opposing batters are hitting just .130 during the month of May, and Hader has been locking things down in the ninth inning. Hader is 5-for-5 in save chances, and is beginning to look like that best closer in baseball that everyone knows he can be.

Hader's performance is certainly a welcome sight for GM Dana Brown whose seat has become a bit cooler of late.

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