It’s time to turn to Herrera for Royals’ eighth-inning job
Kelvin Herrera, the Royals’ nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
The Royals clearly are auditioning for a bridge to closer Greg Holland, and considering how difficult it is for the Royals’ offense to score these days, that job is now critical to the team’s psyche. The Royals simply can’t afford to blow the rare leads they get.
Sunday’s loss was a crusher — a rare three-run rally from the impotent offense gave the Royals the lead, only to have setup men Aaron Crow and Wade Davis spit it back in a 4-3 loss.
Davis started the season as manager Ned Yost’s eighth-inning guy. But after a couple of hiccups from Davis, Yost already is looking for a new candidate for the job.
Enter Crow, who lost his late-inning job last season and essentially was benched for the final month because he couldn’t throw strikes.
Crow came into Sunday’s game with a 3-2 lead and walked the first two hitters he saw. Yost hooked him immediately and brought on Davis, who walked yet another hitter, then threw away a double-play ball for a two-run error. And that was that.
Which brings us to Herrera, who outside of Holland probably has the best stuff of anyone in the bullpen.
Right now, the Royals need Herrera to find his groove again and take over the eighth-inning job.
Yost admitted after Sunday’s loss that he’s searching for a bridge.
"I’m looking for someone to be that tandem (to Holland)," Yost said. "But two walks (by Crow) … that gets you in trouble every time."
Herrera could be the answer, and he could be the key to the season.
Royals fans should remember that Herrera was fantastic in 2012, posting a 2.35 ERA in 76 games. With his 100-mph fastball and devastating change-up, Herrera simply overmatched American League hitters.
And Herrera was just as good, if not better, to start the 2013 season. He was so good, in fact, that many Royals fans and observers were crying for Yost to make Herrera the closer last April when Holland struggled.
Then, out of nowhere, Herrera lost his confidence. And his command. Completely. It was painful to watch. He was sent down to the minors twice last season in the hopes he would snap out of his slump.
There were glimpses of the old Herrera toward the end of the season, signs that he was gaining some of his confidence back.
The Royals need to nurture that confidence, because they desperately need that old Herrera. It’s time to find out if he can be that dominating pitcher again.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter @jflanagankc or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.