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Milwaukee Brewers call up Josh Hader and Brett Phillips

Paolo Espino was optioned back down to AAA and Travis Shaw was placed on emergency family medical leave.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers-Workouts
Josh Hader.
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week I wrote about the fact that now that we are into the second week of June, we should be past the typical Super Two cutoff date and could therefore start seeing some top prospects get promoted to the big leagues. And wouldn’t you know it, that day we saw the Milwaukee Brewers call up Brett Phillips to make his major league debut. Now just a few days later, the Brewers announced that another top prospect will be joining the big league ball club:

As mentioned before, the Brewers had already called up Phillips to make his big league debut earlier this week, but he went back down when Travis Shaw returned from paternity leave and Paolo Espino was needed to make yesterday’s start. Normally a player cannot be recalled within 10 days of getting optioned to the minor leagues, but this is an atypical situation that allows Phillips to be immediately brought back to Milwaukee. There has been no official announcement regarding Shaw’s family emergency, but the timing is especially concerning given that him and his wife had a baby only a few days ago. His family will be in our thoughts and prayers.

Phillips appeared in two games and made three appearances at the plate during his first stint in the big leagues, collecting a single and striking out twice. He started one game and was a defensive replacement in another, and it will be interesting to see if he is more heavily used this time around.

The most exciting news to come out of this, however, is that Josh Hader will be joining the big league club and should make his major league debut at some point this weekend. I have been rather vocal about the need to address Milwaukee’s pitching woes both in this space and on Twitter, and have suggested on numerous occasions that Hader should come up as soon as the Super Two cutoff is in the rear view mirror. As we have established previously, it’s very apparent that David Stearns reads Brew Crew Ball.

Hader is currently ranked as Milwaukee’s #3 prospect and the top left-handed pitcher in the game according to MLB Pipeline. He has struggled mightily in the starting rotation for AAA Colorado Springs this season, authoring a 5.37 ERA/9.33 DRA across 52.0 innings with 8.83 K/9 and 5.37 BB/9. His last two outings have been good ones, however. He was limited to 2.0 innings in both of those appearances, yielding zero runs and 2 walks against 8 strikeouts.

Hader will reportedly pitch out of the bullpen for Milwaukee at this time and will hopefully provide some help to a beleaguered group that 2nd in the league in innings pitched (223.0) and 19th in ERA (4.19). The lack of reliable arms beyond Corey Knebel has been especially glaring of late, with the Brewers recently dropping several close games in the late innings. The Brewers have gone without a left-handed pitcher for almost the entire regular season, so his addition will be welcome in that regard as well. Though Hader hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire in the Pacific Coast League, his mid-90s fastball and plus slider delivered from a cross-fire delivery should play up out of the bullpen. Pitching him in relief to start with also helps mitigate any issues that could stem from his still developing command and changeup.

The casualty of Hader’s promotion is Paolo Espino getting sent back to AAA for the second time this season after spending just one day in the big leagues. Espino will continue to work out of the rotation for Colorado Springs and remains a candidate to make spot starts for the Brewers as needed as the regular season continues on. This means that Espino will not be making a start during Milwaukee’s doubleheader on Tuesday. The Brewers will be able to have a 26 man roster during the doubleheader, but will have to make a roster move after that to get back down to 25 so we’ll see if it’s Hader going down or if Stearns is ready to cut ties with one his several struggling bullpen arms.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs