White Sox recent signing of veteran relief pitcher could have many positive advantages for the upcoming season and beyond.
As reported by Southside Showdown’s Etheria Modacure, the White Sox signed former Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera to a two-year deal on Monday. While his name value gives him a lot of credit, there are other reasons why signing Herrera could work out big time in Chicago’s favor.
First, Herrera is one signing that helps the White Sox improve a bullpen that struggled last season. A two-time All-Star, Herrera struggled more with Washington last season when he compiled a 4.34 ERA in 21 appearances. However, he did pitch remarkably well on a Royals team earlier in the season that finished with the second-worst record in all of baseball.
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Should the White Sox struggle out of the gate in 2019, Herrera has shown that he can still be a shutdown pitcher regardless of a team’s win-loss record (think back to how good he was in the years when Kansas City struggled en route to building their championship team).
A two-year deal suggests that he would be unlikely to be trade bait if things go awry, especially if the Sox’ plan is for him to be along in the rebuilding process.
Secondly, the Sox signing Herrera puts him in a position he’s familiar with. While good teams typically have good bullpens, it’s rare that a bullpen shines as brightly as the Royals bullpen did during their championship year in 2015. That year, Herrera was the setup man in a bullpen rotation that featured current Rockies closer Wade Davis as well as Ryan Madson, Franklin Morales, Luke Hochevar, and Greg Holland.
As writer Tim Webber put it in a 2016 article reflecting back on that season:
"“In a not-insignificant way, the bullpen is what allowed the Royals to complete so many comebacks throughout the postseason…when the Royals did take the lead, they could be comfortable knowing that the bullpen would shut down the opposition no matter then situation.”"
With the White Sox trading for former All-Star and 2017 American League Saves Leader Alex Colome earlier this offseason, it looks like they’re preparing to use Herrera in much the same way as the Royals did, hopefully with similar results.
Finally, adding a veteran player with postseason experience will be a tremendous asset to a youthful team. Herrera, who just turned 30, has only seen the postseason in two seasons. However, those two seasons – as has become common knowledge – resulted in a 2015 World Series Championship and a narrow seven-game loss against San Francisco in 2014.
In 22 career postseason appearances, Herrera has a 2-0 record with a 1.26 ERA in 28.2 innings pitched. Herrera may not always have his best stuff – as his statistics in Washington suggest – but he certainly isn’t intimidated by situations that may rattle other pitchers, and as mentioned is still very capable of pitching well though a team may have some growing pains.
There’s an old saying that goes, “If you can’t beat em’, join em’.” In baseball, it’s more like, “If you can’t beat em, sign em’.” This is certainly a motto the Sox have adopted successfully in the past…remember when fans hated A.J. Pierzynski for being a Sox killer while playing for Minnesota?
The White Sox have a lot to prove in 2019, but they’re certainly trying to take the correct steps for building a team in the future.