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Kansas City Royals Player Profile: Kelvin Herrera


Kansas City Royals pitcher Kelvin Herrera (40) Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Royals are coming off their best season since 1989, and are looking to improve on their 86 wins in 2013. Going forward, we are going to take a closer look at the players that should play significant roles for the Royals in 2014, as they try to make their first post season appearance since winning the World Series in 1985.

If you want read the other completed profiles, just click here. This link will be updated as we add more profiles over the upcoming weeks.

Up next: right-handed relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera

Still only 24 years old, Kelvin Herrera is an intriguing pitcher for the Kansas City Royals bullpen in 2014. The impression left over from last season is that he had a bad year out of the pen. The numbers indicate that if that is a bad year, the Royals have one heck of a pitcher on their hands.

Overall, Herrera finished with a solid 3.86 ERA, which was a run and a half worse than his 2012 mark of 2.35. His WHIP in 2013 was better than the previous season’s 1.183 to 1.186, both solid numbers.

So why does it feel like Herrera was awful last year?

It is because we are remembering the first half of the season, when he WAS awful. In the first half of the 2013 season, Herrera appeared in 29 games and pitched 27.2 innings. His ERA was 5.20, and his WHIP was 1.446. He gave up just 25 hits.

In the second half, he appeared in 30 games, pitched 30.2 innings, and allowed 23 hits. His ERA however, was terrific at 2.64 and his WHIP was .946.

So, what was the difference?

Simply, it was control, and probably confidence. In the first half, he walked 15, but just 6 in the second half. He was also wild within the strike zone, giving up an astronomical 8 home runs in the first two months but only 1 after that. In a nutshell, Herrera was either grooving it, or missing the zone altogether early in the season.

The second half was much more indicative of his skill set than the first, as his overall numbers were comparable in the last three months as in 2012.

From April 16th, when he surrendered 3 bombs to the Atlanta Braves, though May 19th, Herrera served up 8 home runs in 12 appearances. He did not allow another home run until July 26th, and that was the only round tripper he surrendered the rest of the season – just that one in his last 41 games and 39 innings.

Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera (40) Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

We should be able to assume that it was just a blip for that one month last year.

His ratios reflect that as well. For the season, his K/9 was 11.4 (12.0 in the second half), and improvement of over three strikeouts per 9 innings over 2012. His K/BB was 3.52 for the year, slightly up from 2012, but in the second half, Herrera struck out 6.83 batters for every one he walked, a terrific number.

In the last three months of 2013, after struggling mightily at times in the first three months (his ERA was 6.43 in those 12 appearances in April and May), he returned to the shut down reliever he was in 2012.

There is every indication that Kelvin Herrera is still that lock down reliever, that he can stand out in a bullpen loaded with talented, power arms. That stretch of games last year notwithstanding, which can be written off as a slump and learning experience for a very young pitcher, Herrera still might be the top arm in the bullpen after Greg Holland.

He will certainly be a prime candidate for the primary set up pitcher, the one Ned Yost calls on in the 8th inning to get the game into closer Greg Holland’s capable hands. Herrera could even grow into a possible closer in the near future.

The talent is still there. Look past the bad memories (and stats) of a horrible stretch of games for Herrera, and realize that he is a very big, important part of the 2014 Royals.

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