The Milwaukee Brewers shocked the fans and the Fox Sports Wisconsin commentators when manager Ron Roenicke decided to use Francisco Rodriguez in the closer role on Opening Day instead of Jim Henderson. It was revealed that Henderson’s velocity was nowhere near what it needed to be in order to be effective. The good news is Henderson appears to only be a week behind as he is quickly regaining his form.
In just his third appearance of the season, the right-hander struck out two batters and didn’t allow a single base runner in Tuesday’s contest against the Philadelphia Phillies. Granted, the Brewers did sport him a six-run cushion, as Milwaukee won 10-4 during Philadelphia’s home opener. With that being said, Henderson was consistently throwing the ball in the mid-90s and he even reached 97 mph at one point.
It’s also promising that it was the 31-year-old’s first full inning of the season. In a 5-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves in the first series of the year, Henderson lasted just one-third of an inning. His follow up performance against the Boston Red Sox was even worse as he faced two hitters but failed to record an out.
At this point, progress is the most important thing for Henderson. Sure, he’s not appearing in the closer role, a position he fared well in last season. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t be a good contributor for the team. Everyone has to play an important part if the Brewers are serious about contending for a National League Central division title. As long as Rodriguez is closing games at a high level, he will remain in that role, rightfully so. But having an arm such as Henderson’s at Roenicke’s disposal makes Milwaukee a very dangerous squad.