Following up: Kelvin Herrera returns to the cutter

Kelvin Herrera’s contract makes him a lock for a second season even though the ratings and reviews for his pilot have been dismal.

Give him credit for trying to hook an audience before the end of Season 1.

With a four-up-four-down effort on Wednesday, Herrera has strung together four scoreless outings. Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down with the applause. Herrera’s posted four consecutive zeroes a couple times even during his massive midsummer issues, and he’s only managed to lower his ERA from 6.90 to 6.20 with this stretch. There’s no saving this year from “disaster” status.

The wrinkle here is that he’s reintroduced the cutter this month, and in heavier portions. Wednesday’s appearance was the first time he’d thrown more cutters than any other pitch since April:

I wrote about how the cutter appeared to be the most effective pitch for the post-foot-injury Herrera back in April, but then a different issue (back stiffness) appeared to mess with his entire approach. Whether he was trying to get his old power back or just didn’t trust his ability to spin pitches, Herrera shelved his cutter over June, July and August, throwing a total of two over a three-month period.

Now here he is Wednesday night, throwing six of them and getting four whiffs, including three for strike three.

It’s not so simple as cutters = success. In his outing before the scoreless streak, he only threw one pitch. It was a cutter to Kyle Lewis, and it ended up over the center field wall.

Also, the cutter he used to strike out Jordan Luplow with his final pitch was a up-and-in mistake that Luplow almost ran into reading the spin, and he couldn’t check up.

He also prefers to limit his cutter usage to righties, starting it on the outer half and fading off the plate, like this one to Oscar Mercado:

Herrera didn’t use it against lefties even earlier in the season, which made his multiple cutters to Carlos Santana in the eighth inning on Wednesday notable. He missed down and in with what precedent said would be his only effort, but when he threw a more tempting cutter two pitches later, Santana couldn’t hold up.

That was only Herrera’s 13th strikeout of a left-handed batter in 90 plate appearances (14.4 percent). He’s issued 10 walks, and although five of those are intentional, that still points to the same issue that Herrera hasn’t had much of a way to attack unfavorable matchups with any confidence.

The lefty issue is a sidebar to his overall issues retiring batters of any kind, but perhaps confidence in one area indicates confidence in others. Unless Herrera returns from the offseason fully free of foot and back issues, he’ll probably need that cutter to extend his second life as a reliever. And given how much he’s spent battling his body the last two years, it’s probably a good idea to hone that cutter regardless.

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Count Mike Petriello as the latest to treat Guaranteed Rate Field with new eyes:

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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asinwreck

If Petriello wants to make a regular habit out of working Sox games after Steve Stone retires, that’s fine by me. He, Benetti, and Eduardo Perez call a good game together.

metasox

That would be good to see.

I kind of agree with Petriello on the food concessions. Maybe a dozen years ago, but by today’s standards even with everything open doesn’t strike me as out of the ordinary. Perhaps I am missing something. Would really like to see some noteworthy chefs who specialize in “street food” take a crack at baseball food.

roke1960

Having an effective Herrera next year would really be helpful. Since they are paying him $9 million and he is very likely untradeable, it sure would be nice to get something remotely close to the KC Herrera.

Yolmer's gatorade

KC Herrera is probably never coming back. But a version of Herrera next year that is a decent middle reliever will go a long way to making his contract not a total waste.

texag10

I’m not even shooting for decent. Just give me a Herrera that never craps the bed.

Yolmer's gatorade

He was on the wrong side of some batted ball luck during his rough stretch and he had some decent peripherals, like average exit velocity, even during the bad times. I think he can do well next year in a less leveraged role.

Trooper Galactus

A reliever who never craps the bed is basically an elite reliever.

texag10

Alex Colome isn’t elite and he’s never crapped the bed this year. Just no outings where ER>IP and we are good. That doesn’t seem like a big ask for someone who probably won’t be in high leverage innings next year.

burning-phoneix

Kelvin Herrera will post a sub 3.50 ERA next season screencap this.

metasox

Given his successful start, I am willing to guess injuries were the primary culprit and he can make a good comeback.

Yolmer's gatorade

Something between 3-4.25 is fine with me.