In fantasy baseball, the closer’s role is one of the most volatile and treacherous to navigate. Some fantasy managers choose to invest heavily in a top arm, and others opt to go the cheaper route in drafts and chase saves during the season on the waiver wire.
Both strategies have proven to work over the years, but neither really offers you the safety or comfort you would like to carry through a full season. Just ask those who spent a third- or fourth-round draft pick on Josh Hader. His recent disasters and subsequent removal from the closer’s role in San Diego have caused many to part ways with him late in the season. But if accruing saves can be a difference-maker, you need to restore your faith and add him now.
Putting your trust in Hader this late in the season can be a daunting task. He went from being the most dominant reliever in baseball to a cautionary tale in under a month’s time, and his 19.06 ERA for the month of August has ruined many a fantasy team’s ratios.
Unfortunately, no one has been able to understand why. Hader thought he might be tipping is pitches earlier in the season, but no one has been able to identify that as a reason for his recent demise. His mechanics seem to be in order, and there has been no drop-off in his velocity.
Hader’s recent issues seem to be more mental than physical. Did anyone stop to realize that the start of his meltdown came in mid-July, when the Brewers first began entertaining potential offers? The deal itself was a shock to most, but in the two weeks leading up to the trade deadline, there were rumblings that Milwaukee might make some rash moves to shake things up for a playoff run.
We tend to forget that these players are human and can be affected by the news that surrounds them. That seems to be the case for Hader, who has never been comfortable with his change of scenery.
Accepting that these issues for Hader could be mental and that they are, indeed, fixable will be a tough sell for most. Every time it looks as if he is working himself back, another setback occurs. But during his appearance Wednesday, we caught a glimpse of the Hader of old, and that should spark some hope. He is too talented a player to let slip through your fingers. Mental obstacles can be overcome, and though the transformation won’t happen overnight, by season’s end, you’ll wish you had taken that leap of faith.
Howard Bender is the head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy baseball advice.