In 2015, the Palm Beach Cardinals had 12 pitchers record at least one save. In order to determine The Cardinal Nation’s top reliever on the A-Advanced club this season, we will narrow the results using a process of elimination.
First, let’s remove everyone who did not pitch at least 30 Florida State League innings out of the bullpen. That brings us down to five pitchers: Chris Perry, Josh Lucas, Kevin Herget, Tyler Melling and Cody Schumacher. The latter two, Melling and Schumacher, had ERAs over 2.80, and only recorded one save apiece, so we will cut them out of the picture. That leaves just three.
Chris Perry closed as many games as anyone for the Cardinals, collecting 11 saves in 12 opportunities before being promoted to Springfield. The ERA posted by the 25-year-old right-hander was a stellar 1.97 and he put up a K/9 of 9.56 on the way. His BB/9 was high, sitting at 4.50, and that boosted his FIP up to a less impressive 2.82, but all in all, Perry was one of Palm Beach’s best relievers.
Candidate number two, Josh Lucas, 24, recorded nine saves in 12 opportunities with an ERA of 1.29 - the best of the three. The right-hander’s FIP was elevated to 3.08 by a poor K/9 of 6.59, but his 1.93 BB/9 helped him keep his ERA down. Yet the three blown saves may be demonstrative of a hole in his game.
The third option is Kevin Herget. Although the 24-year-old right-hander only had nine save opportunities with Palm Beach, he converted seven while maintaining an impressive 1.75 ERA. His K/9 was nearly as high as Perry’s, at 9.54, and his BB/9 of 2.15 was just a little bit over Lucas’. That combination gave him the lowest FIP of the three, an impressive 1.81. Herget also pitched the most for the Cardinals, tossing 67 innings over the course of the season.
So who was the best? That question depends on what you weigh most heavily. Lucas had the best ERA by quite a bit, and a really low walk rate, with both indicative of a good pitcher. On the other hand, Perry had the most saves and the highest strikeout rate, so maybe that indicates a reliever best capable of handling the pressure of the ninth inning.
However, I will take Kevin Herget. Although his ERA wasn’t the lowest, and he collected the fewest saves of the lot, his low FIP and BB/9 combined with a high K/9 over a relatively large sample suggest to me that the organization’s 39th-rounder in 2013 was the best reliever in the Palm Beach Cardinals bullpen in 2015.
Congratulations to Kevin Herget, The Cardinal Nation Palm Beach Cardinals Relief Pitcher of the Year.
Link to master article with all 2015 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. Of course, that includes our selections as the Palm Beach Cardinals Starting Pitcher and Player of the Year.
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