Another 2018 Report Card, this time, it’s for the Washington Nationals only significant trade acquisition, Kelvin Herrera, who just couldn’t catch a break.
With our latest 2018 Report Card, we take a look at the Washington Nationals big trade pick-up, Kelvin Herrera. He came over from the Kansas City Royals as a proven late-inning option that seemed set to boost the bullpen. However, he never caught a break in Washington.
The reliever was acquired on June 18th for third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez, outfielder Blake Perkins, and pitcher Yohanse Morel. While only brought in as a rental, the price made sense for someone who had a 1.05 ERA and 14 saves in 27 appearances at the point of the trade.
However, after donning the curly w, he recorded just three saves filling in for Sean Doolittle, to the tune of a 4.34 ERA. He missed time due to a right rotator cuff impingement in mid-August before he had his season ended by an unfortunate left Lisfranc tear just six days after being activated from the DL.
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The Positives for Herrera
While Kelvin Herrera didn’t do fantastic in his stint with the Nats, he had a strange knack for worming his way out of self-created jams. 14 of his 21 games for the team ended up being scoreless outings for the right-hander, though a lot of those scoreless outings did come with some traffic on the bases. Consider him the reliever version of last year’s Gio Gonzalez if you will. The walks and hits would rarely allow for clean innings but he pulled a Houdini quite often.
At the time of his acquisition, having him ready to step in late in games, it took the pressure off of Brandon Kintzler and Ryan Madson, who had their fair share of rough patches early on. Kintzler had a 4.45 ERA and Madson had a 4.38 ERA when the deal was made, so the right-hander gave them such much needed rest. Herrera was also able to fill in for Doolittle when he missed significant time, giving the team an experienced closer to lean on, when healthy.
Areas for Improvement
When healthy is the key phrasing there though, as even when he wasn’t on the Disabled List, he seemed to be working through some sort of soreness. In his time with the Nationals, Herrera’s fastball averaged just 96.7 mph, while his career average is 98.5 mph and even last year he was way up at 97.9 mph. It’s a shame for Nats fans that they never really got to see the dominant version of Herrera for an extended period of time.
Because it seemed like he was struggling for health a lot of the time, the results he had to round out 2018 were the worst of his career. With the Nationals, he had an 11.6 H/9, 1.9 HR/9, 3.9 BB/9, and a 7.7 K/9, all of which were the worst figures he registered since 2011, aside from K/9 which was the second worst after 2014. His FanGraphs 2018 heatmap was all over the place, which emphasizes the lack of consistency he showed.
The Final Grade
Kelvin Herrera came to D.C. with high expectations due to a dominant stint with the Royals which included a World Series ring. Sadly, he came nowhere near that form thanks to his niggling injuries, leaving the bullpen exposed during the crucial summer months.
The front office gave up two good prospects and essentially a Hail Mary 17-year-old for him as a rental, and could regret that long-term. He still wasn’t a complete disaster, so it would be harsh to give him bottom marks overall, but he comes pretty close given the price paid to get him. D-
Remember to keep an eye out for more Washington Nationals 2018 Report Cards during the upcoming weeks here at District on Deck.