by John Viril—
Kansas City Royals fans who regularly scan AAA Omaha’s box scores might have noticed that reliever Kelvin Herrera has been making starts for the Stormchasers since getting sent down on June 25. However, the switch is not an attempt to transition Herrera into a starting pitcher. Instead, Royals officials indicated that they wanted to give Herrera a chance to work on all of his pitches. Kansas City did something similar when current closer Greg Holland rehabbed a rib injury early last season.
Even so, I can’t help but dream a little.
On July 4, Herrera went 3.1 innings with an impressive 7 strikeouts and 0 earned runs. Herrera made 60 pitches and looked dominant in Omaha’s 3-0 win over the Round Rock Express. Herrera isn’t that far from developing the endurance needed to start. Herrera and his plus plus fastball would be immensely more valuable in the starting rotation.
Herrera DID used to start before he was converted to the pen after persistent elbow troubles dogged him in the lower minor leagues. After beginning the 2011 season in high-A Wilmington, he whiffed his through 4 levels as he earned a September callup t0 Kansas City.
That meteoric rise after struggling with his elbow as a starter suggests relieving is the correct role for Herrera. Anything else is just an intriguing fantasy.