Should Astros be concerned with poor early returns on Josh Hader investment?

Josh Hader has already blown two games for the Astros.
Houston Astros pitcher Josh Hader
Houston Astros pitcher Josh Hader / Tim Warner/GettyImages

Josh Hader was the Houston Astros biggest offseason acquisition, but thus far, the results have been less than stellar. After Tuesday night's loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, Hader is now 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in four relief appearances this season.

After being swept right out of Minute Maid Park during opening weekend and watching Ronel Blanco go all nine innings on Monday night, Hader finally got his first opportunity to record a save in an Astros uniform. But things didn't go the way Hader or the 28,000 Astros fans in attendance had hoped.

Hader replaced Ryan Pressly in the ninth inning with the Astros nursing a 1-0 lead. Down to their final out, the Blue Jays rallied with a two-run homer off the bat of Davis Schneider and Toronto won the game 2-1.

The early returns in Astros’ Josh Hader investment have not been great

The Astros signed Hader to the largest deal ever signed by a relief pitcher after inking the left-hander to a five-year, $95 million deal this winter. That type of contract comes with high expectations, and to date, Hader hasn't lived up to them.

The back end of the Astros bullpen was already a strength of the team heading into 2024. After Houston added Hader to the mix, it felt like the smallest of leads would be safe with the combination of Hader, Pressly, and Bryan Abreu locking down the latter part of games. But it's been anything but that through the first week of action.

While it's still very early in the season, all these games count. Framber Valdez pitched a gem, allowing just six hits to one of the better offensive teams in baseball. Pressly's performance, albeit to just one batter in the eighth inning, was flawless.

The Astros defense even bailed Hader out. After allowing a leadoff single to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the 'Stros turned a 6-4-3 double play to erase the threat. But a five-pitch walk to Justin Turner set the stage for Schneider, and the Blue Jays outfielder launched a hanging slider over the wall and out of the ballpark. This came after Hader allowed the game-winning RBI single to Juan Soto, which saw the Astros swept across four games this past Sunday.

There are lofty expectations that come with being the highest-paid reliever in the game. As the season moves along, Astros fans are hopeful to look back on the this game as though it's just a blip on the radar. But Hader's early-season outings have not been great, and the fans would rather not be seeing these headlines.

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