For the fourth straight season, Kelvin Herrera registered at least 20 holds, joining Tony Watson as the only relievers to accomplish the feat. Skills-wise, Herrera took his game to a new level, combining a return to a double-digit strikeout rate with a precipitous drop in walks. Integral to Herrera's improvement was throwing fewer fastballs, dropping from 75 percent heaters to 60, while introducing a plus slider to his arsenal. Herrera's fantasy owners got a bonus when the dominant righty assumed closing duties while Wade Davis was on the disabled list, converting all 10 of his save opportunities in that span. With Davis getting dealt to the reigning world champs in the offseason, the ninth inning will belong to Herrera going forward. He was useful even when he was not getting saves on a regular basis, and now he should be viewed as a top-10 closer, as he has the skills and has shown himself capable of handling the role.
Herrera will make his Cactus League debut Monday, Josh Vernier of 610 Sports Radio reports. Kansas City's new save artist probably was being brought along slowly as he warms to his role. The right-hander enjoyed sizable improvements in his K/9 (10.75) and BB/9 (1.50) last year. The veteran boasts the upside to finish as a top-10 mixed-league closer.
Herrera will receive $5.325 million for the 2017 season, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. The Royals' closer settled at the midpoint of his asking price and the team's offer in arbitration. Herrera's elite skills will now be accompanied by saves after the team traded Wade Davis to the Cubs this offseason. Assuming he holds the role all season, Herrera has the potential to finish as a top-10 fantasy closer.
Herrera appears in line to take over as the Royals' closer after the team traded Wade Davis to the Cubs on Wednesday. The 26-year-old Herrera proved plenty capable of handling closer duties while Davis was out with a forearm injury this past season, going 12-for-13 in save opportunities. Herrera was one of the more dominant relievers the game throughout the year, striking batters out at a 30.4 percent clip on the strength of a 15.2 percent swinging-strike rate. He also cut his walk rate by more than half, posting a 4.2 percent mark (down from 9.1 percent). The right-hander throws 97 and can change speeds while mixing in a slider and curveball -- he has a strong case to be a top-10 closer in drafts in 2017.
Herrera notched his 12th save in Saturday's 7-4 victory over the Tigers, pitching a perfect ninth inning. He was particularly sharp while disposing of Erick Aybar, Andrew Romine and Jose Iglesias on just 10 pitches after the Royals had made a spectacular five-run comeback in the ninth. Herrera did a solid job as the closer while Wade Davis endured a DL stint earlier in the summer, and has converted 12 of 15 save opportunities this season while also amassing 26 holds.
Herrera notched his 10th save in Friday's 6-3 victory over the Red Sox with a scoreless ninth inning in which he gave up two hits. The 26-year-old now has eight straight scoreless appearances, and Friday marked the first time he'd given up a hit since Aug. 10 against the White Sox. He converted all nine of his save chances in August as well while generating a 2.77 ERA and sparkling 16:1 K:BB over 13 innings. Factoring in the 23 holds he's also racked up in 2016, Herrera has been the likely MVP of a Royals bullpen that endured the loss of Wade Davis (elbow) in late July, an injury which thrust the 26-year-old into his current closer role.