5 ex-KC Royals who may be a bit too close to home

(Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals,
KC Royals, /

A relief pitcher who made unforgettable contributions to the KC Royals’ magical 2014 and 2015 seasons has been pitching for a Central Division rival since last season. Kansas City will probably see him frequently in 2020.

Kelvin Herrera will forever be known as part of the fearsome back-of-the-bullpen trio that played crucial roles in the KC Royals’ runs to glory in 2014 and ’15. Known simply as “HDH,” Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland made wining a virtual certainty when given a lead after six innings. Herrera invariably pitched the seventh inning, Davis the eighth and Holland the ninth until Holland went down with an injury late in 2015. Then, the Royals never missed a beat as Herrera simply moved up to the eighth and Davis closed the ninth.

No better word than “dominating” describes the way Herrera pitched in those two seasons as the Royals won the 2014 American League pennant before losing a heartbreaking seventh game of the World Series, then won their first World Series title since 1985 the following year. He went 4-3 in both seasons, with ERA’s of 1.41 (280 ERA+) and 2.71 (155 ERA+).

He saved 12 games in 2016; then, pressed into closer duty when Davis left for free agency after that season, saved 40 across 2017 and ’18 before being traded to Washington in June 2018. Herrera moved on to the White Sox for 2019 and suffered a discouraging off-year, posting a 3-3 record with one save in 57 games.

Although Alex Colome is Chicago’s presumptive closer, Herrera should see considerable 2020 action, including against the KC Royals. He’s pitched against his former club nine times, posting a 1-0 record with a 4.15 ERA; the Royals have hit .273 against him. If Herrera returns to form, Kansas City–and the rest of the Central Division–could suffer accordingly.