Padres’ Josh Hader made MLB playoff history with Game 2 dominance
By Jerry Trotta
The San Diego Padres are right back in the NLCS, though things got dicey after Juan Soto’s sun-induced blunder in Game 2 that saw the Philadelphia Phillies jump out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning. Luckily, the Padres’ bats caught fire and the bullpen, led by Josh Hader, allowed one run in four innings of work.
The win underscored why Padres’ front office went scorched earth at the trade deadline. Initially, acquisitions Juan Soto, Josh Hader and Josh Bell didn’t meet expectations. The struggles of Soto and Hader were especially alarming given their superstar labels.
As of the second week of September, Soto ranked No. 22 in offensive war amongst outfielders and was slumping to a .153 average with the Padres. Incredibly, though, Hader’s historic struggles post-trade overshadowed the slugger’s woes.
San Diego was never going to have a shot at playoff glory if Hader didn’t rediscover his un-hittable form, but the three-time Reliever of the Year has done just that. Hader’s been nails all postseason, but his dominance has reached another level over his last three outings dating back to Game 4 against the Dodgers.
In fact, Hader etched his name in MLB postseason history after he struck out the side in the Padres’ Game 2 win over Philly.
Padres closer Josh Hader made MLB playoff history after striking out the side in Game 2 of the NLCS.
It wasn’t long ago the Padres were getting trolled into oblivion for giving up four players, including pitchers Taylor Rogers, Robert Gasser (San Diego’s No. 7 prospect) and Dinelson Lamet, and outfielder Esteury Ruiz (No. 28 prospect). The jokes were warranted, as Hader was historically bad following the trade.
At one point, the left-handed flamethrower allowed 12 runs on 12 hits in just 4.2 innings, culminating in a six-run, two-walk meltdown in a loss to the Royals. Hader was stripped of his role as the Padres’ closer and sported a 25.71 ERA and 4.76 WHIP for his new team over seven appearances.
Hader struggled before the blockbuster trade, too, giving up 10 earned runs over 4.1 innings in six games before the deadline. From July 13 to the six-run disaster on Aug. 28 (13 appearances), Hader conceded 16 runs in nine innings for a 22.00 ERA and 3.56 WHIP.
Like we said, if Hader continued that form into the playoffs, the Padres likely would’ve been eliminated by the Dodgers (he wasn’t really needed against the Mets). In 5.1 innings in October, the 28-year-old has yet to allow an earned run to go with 10 strikeouts, one walk and has recorded four saves in five appearances.
Dating back to the regular season, Hader hasn’t allowed an earned run since Sept. 5, meaning he’s gone 15 appearances without allowing a run.
Much like his uncharacteristic slump, these are unfathomable numbers.
With a day of rest under his belt after throwing 13 pitches in Game 2, San Diego will call the closer’s number again in Friday’s Game 3 if the score is close late. Given his current form, more strikeouts are surely on the way.