The Washington Nationals had won their division three times in the past four years, and had no playoff series wins to show for it. As the 2018 season progressed, needing help in the bullpen became evident for the Nationals. Instead of waiting until the trading deadline to acquire an arm, they struck early, in the middle of June early.
They acquired one of the most sought after arms in the trading market, Kelvin Herrera, closer of the Kansas City Royals.
Now as Herrera decides to walk away from the game, we take a look back at his half season in DC.
After the Nationals acquired Kelvin Herrera midseason, he struggled to boost the backend of the bullpen like they expected.
While the Nationals already had a closer in Sean Doolittle, they lacked consistency in getting the ball from the starting pitcher to the stopper. Herrera was going to be that bridge, and eliminate three outs in between.
Herrera was a two-time All-Star with the Royals and in 27 games prior to being traded, had a 1.05 ERA and 14 saves. In his first two outings with his new team, he pitched two clean innings, picking up a hold and a win.
His performance went down hill from there. As did that of the Nats.
He would have just two clean innings in his next ten appearances. Herrera had only given up runs in two games during his time with the Royals, in twelve games with the Nationals to this point, he’d been touched for runs four times.
The Nationals were six games above .500 when Herrera was acquired, they were an even .500 when the trading deadline came. Even though they were in third place in the division, they held strong, moving only Brandon Kintler in a deadline deal.
Herrera’s pitching from that point on was average, yet as the Nationals fell farther and farther from the top they hoped they may be able to trade him at the non-waiver trading deadline. Then Herrera took the mound in an August 26th game the Nationals were leading 15-0. He would leave with a torn ligament in his left foot.
Herrera pitched in 21 games for the Nationals, going 1-2 with a 4.34 ERA (5.68 FIP). He would walk away as a free agent at the end of the season, a year in which the Nationals didn’t make the postseason.
While twenty four players ultimately trudged out of the bullpen in 2018, Herrera was supposed to be different. He was going to be the savior for a much maligned pitching staff. Herrera was not solely responsible for the Nationals lackluster play down the stretch. He didn’t even turn into a bright spot for the team, however, then his injury added to insult.
As he bids adieu to the game of baseball, we wish him well, and continue to wonder what could have been. Thankfully for the Nationals and their fans, 2019 happened.