After spending 10 years in the minors, Henderson finally got his opportunity to be a big-league pitcher last year. This season, if Axford continues to struggle, Jim Henderson will get the opportunity to be the Brewers closer.
For those of you monitoring the closing situation in Milwaukee it is important to realize that Jim Henderson has displayed legitimate closer ability in his short time in the majors. Henderson made his MLB debut last season at 29 years of age. Similar to how Tom Wilhelmsen was initially thought of, this has kept many owners from taking him seriously. Henderson started out as a SP in the minors in 2003. When he was unimpressive in that role he was tried as a reliever and has been much better.During his 10 years in the minor leagues he was, at various points, considered by many to be just organizational depth. The fact of the matter is that Henderson has been very impressive with the Brewers and it hasn't been because of good fortune.
Henderson pitched 30 2/3 innings for the Brewers in 2012. He struck out 45 while walking 13. His 3.25 ERA and 1.27 WHIP were very respectable but could have potentially been even better. With a 1.95 FIP, 2.73 xFIP, 70 xFIP-, 2.37 SIERA, and 2.49 tERA, there is strong evidence that Henderson's performance is that of a potential future closer. Although his control issues might prevent him from being an elite one, he can be very solid in the role. Fellow Fake Teams writer Paul Rice, mentioned Jim Henderson as a potential bust out closer candidate here.
Henderson has always had a very good K/9 rate in the minors but in 2011 he showed improved control at AA. His BB/9 went from 5.16 in 2010 to 2.35 in 2011. Henderson's control then regressed upon his promotion to AAA. At AAA in 2012, he displayed decent control with a 4.13 BB/9 but improved upon that in the majors with a 3.82 BB/9. This control is nothing special, however, combined with his K/9 with the Brewers in 2012 of 13.21 it is good enough. He is has been a dominant pitcher thus far. Henderson throws 95 MPH cheese complimented by a nasty slider. He is very similar to the pitcher he may replace in the closer role. Both he and John Axford have some command issues but make up for that with their impressive K rates. Axford has typically gotten a little more velocity on his fastball but this year that hasn't been the case. His velocity is down. Axford already has a blown save and 3 HR allowed. He still could regain his lost velocity and get some security back with a few saves but if he comes out throwing 93 and blows another save the Brewers could be forced to make the switch to Henderson who has pitched 2 scoreless innings with 2 K and 0 BB. There isn't much else in the Brewers bullpen so if there is a change then it's very likely to be to Jim Henderson. If you have a bench spot open in your fantasy league and he's still available it's worth taking a shot on him.