Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers – #29 Jim Henderson

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Welcome in to another edition of “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers”. Thanks for taking a few minutes to learn about one of the men who stands to positively impact the Brewers fortunes in 2013.

We’re 29 days away from Opening Day at Miller Park and as such we’ll be taking a look at the man wearing #29 this year. This article also marks a milestone of sorts. With both Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum moving on to different teams since last year, there are no more pitchers to profile. Therefore, after today’s subject the rest of the way will be profiles of position players including all of the projected starters beginning with Carlos Gomez on Tuesday.

hendersonAs for today, let’s get going as we learn a little and review a little about…

Jim Henderson.

It’s been quite the 12 months of “firsts” for James D. Henderson. The right-hander made his major league debut at the grizzled age of 29. He earned his first Win, recorded his first strikeout, and all of those other statistical happenings. Another first is that this is the first time Henderson will wear number 29 in games after wearing number 51 throughout this MLB service time in 2012. And now? Henderson is taking part in his first big league camp at Spring Training.

Don’t misunderstand though. He’s been at Spring Training every year of his career since being drafted in the 26th round out of Tennessee Wesleyan College in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft by the Montreal Expos, but this is the first time that he’s been on the big league side of any of those Spring Trainings. He earned this opportunity the same way he earned his call up to The Show last year…by pitching well.

As the closer with Triple-A Nashville, Henderson had posted a 1.69 ERA in 48.0 innings. He struck out 56 hitters in those 48.0 IP as well. With the woes being experienced by the Milwaukee bullpen, fans began clamoring for someone new from Nashville to see if they could fare any better than the group that was constituted at the time. Henderson finally joined the team in late July, making his debut on July 26th. He started off with four scoreless appearances and finished the year with 27 of the same. In his nine games where he allowed runs, only three of them were two-run outings. The rest were single run frames. Henderson didn’t ever pitch more than an inning while with the Brewers, but did record more than three outs in 17 of his 35 games with the Sounds.

As a big leaguer in 2012, Henderson’s complete line was: 30.2 IP, 3.52 ERA, 26 H, 12 ER, 1 HR, 13 BB, 45 K, 1.272 WHIP, 13.2 K/9, 3.45 K/BB. Henderson’s ERA+ was 118. He even was pitching so well at one point that he was the primary closer option before John Axford righted his own pitching ship down the stretch.

So how is it, with those kinds of results, that Henderson was toiling away in the minors to begin with? Well, let’s just say that consistency in the minor leagues wasn’t exactly Henderson’s forte.

As Henderson moved methodically up the ranks of the minor leagues, first with Montreal/Washington’s system, then with the Cubs’ minor league affiliates, it took some time to make the adjustment. As you look at Henderson’s numbers, he struggled at a level, pitched well the next year to earn a promotion — lather, rinse, repeat.

In fact, that he pitched as well as he did for the Brewers in 2012 is the anomaly. Hopefully though the trend continues in that now that he’s seen the level for half a year, he’ll do even better in 2013 as he makes adjustments. He looks to make his money this season at the back-end of the bullpen again. He’ll either be setting up for John Axford in a tandem with Michael Gonzalez or primarily on his own.

The native of Calgary, Alberta is about to partake in another first this spring as he is about to leave his first big league camp to pitch on behalf of his homeland. Team Canada has the highest number of Brewers among the 13 participating in the World Baseball Classic this year. That should come as little surprise to fans as we all know how much benefit Canadians have given this franchise from the front office to the field.

Certainly, 2013 could be a big one for all involved. Hopefully for Jim Henderson it ends with another first. That first trip to the MLB postseason.

You can follow Jim Henderson on Twitter: @JimHenderson29

Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:

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