Josh Hader's latest collapse results in misguided hostility toward Astros manager

This isn't a Joe Espada problem. It's a Josh Hader problem.
Houston Astros Josh Hader (71) pitches against
Houston Astros Josh Hader (71) pitches against / Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Hader has failed to live up to the lofty billing attached to the massive five-year, $95 million contract the reliever signed during the offseason. Hader's early-season struggles continued on Monday night after he allowed four runs on four hits. Hader was pulled after recording just one out in the ninth.

But Astros fans surprisingly want to throw manager Joe Esapda under the bus for using Hader in that situation. Some of the Houston faithful questioned why Espada went with Hader rather than Ryan Pressly. Others criticized the Astros skipper for turning to Hader in a non-save situation. And there were some who disagreed with Hader appearing in back-to-back games. Miss us with all those excuses.

Hader signed a record-breaking deal this past offseason and is being paid $19 million per year to get outs. Whether the opportunity arises in a tie game, in the seventh inning, or on three days of rest, Hader needs to answer the bell. Period! End of story!

Josh Hader's latest collapse results in misguided hostility toward Astros manager

Is it fair to question Espada's decision-making? Absolutely. Nobody bats 1.000, and over the course of the 2024 season, which is Espada's first at the helm, the Astros manager will make his fair share of mistakes. But this latest collapse from Hader is not one of those moments.

With the Astros trailing 2-1, Hader entered in the ninth inning. The left-hander walked the first Braves hitter he faced in Adam Duvall, and threw a wild pitch to the next batter. Hader then allowed four straight singles before recording his first out. But by then, Atlanta had taken a 4-1 lead. Hader was removed from the game, and by the time the Astros got up to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning, they were down 6-1.

By the way, for all the Astros fans complaining that Hader should not have pitched on back-to-back days, he did that 15 times last season with the San Diego Padres. And he threw a grand total of four pitches on Sunday, so this had nothing to do with Hader being tired.

If you're frustrated, Astros fans, be frustrated at the right person. Don't fall into the trap of blaming the manager when the player is at fault. Hader's early-season struggles are becoming concerning. The southpaw has made nine appearances this season and owns a 9.39 ERA. This has the makings of a horrific investment if Hader isn't able to turn the corner.

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