This is the third in The Cardinal Nation’s monthly three-part series in which we announce our Players and Pitchers of the Month, both starters and relievers, across the St. Louis Cardinals organization. This time around, we will review the April performances of the top relief pitchers in the system.
To be completely honest, for 2016, I was going to revert to just naming one top pitcher each month like the Cardinals organization and not award a reliever specifically.
However, that changed when I looked at the April numbers. There were just too many excellent relief performances that were bound to be overlooked if I did not give bullpenners their own spotlight – which is precisely why I added the award in the first place.
So, here we are again.
Coming up with a list of finalists was simple. Six relievers across the system had ERAs under 1.00. Two yielded a lone run and the other four of them logged spotless April ERAs. All four full-season levels of play are represented by these strong candidates.
ERA and WHIP leaders
I have to admit right up front that it is almost impossible for me to get past the first stat line. Not only did Kevin Herget of Palm Beach pitch as many innings as some starters, 18, he allowed no runs on three hits and issued just one walk all month, leading to an amazing 0.22 WHIP!
I think I could be satisfied stopping right there, but I will continue.
Strikeout and walk leaders
Memphis lefty Dean Kiekhefer continued his exceptional control ways, joined by a new bullpen member for 2016, Springfield’s Corey Littrell, each with no walks for the month.
Chris Perry of Springfield edged out Herget as the top strikeout arm among our finalists, but his alarming walk rate suggests his zero ERA included some measure of good fortune.
Because of the tiny (or no) walk rate, Kiekhefer, Littrell and Herget overshadow the others in strikeout to walk ratio. Perry and Memphis free agent signee John Church are far in the rear due to higher walk counts.
Looking at ground ball to fly ball ratio, there are two notables. Church and the fourth scoreless reliever, Luke Harrison who had been with Peoria, were best at inducing grounders, while Perry is fly ball skewed. The others are in the middle.
The above table indicates the counting stats for these six relievers during April. While not all of them played the same role and the totals are fairly small, we can still check out their bottom lines. (For easier comparison, the names are listed in the same order as in the first table.)
Herget has six saves without a stumble and a hold to boot. Four of the six have two holds, though Littrell was charged with a blown save.
Based on his superb results across the board, 25-year-old right-hander Kevin Herget from the Class A-Advanced Palm Beach Cardinals is the clear choice as The Cardinal Nation’s Relief Pitcher of the Month for April.
Herget, 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, was St. Louis’ 39th-round selection in the 2013 Draft from Kean University in New Jersey. His ability to pitch effectively over multiple innings is clear when observing that 29 of his 42 appearances last season went for at least four outs.
Coming into 2016, Herget had a sparkling 20-5 record and 11 saves to go with a 2.73 ERA and 204 strikeouts against 55 walks in 204 1/3 innings. The New Jersey native made a brief debut at Palm Beach in 2014 and also spent most of last season at the high-A level, where he was named TCN’s 2015 Palm Beach Relief Pitcher of the Year.
Herget stumbled in a four-game introduction at Double-A last summer, but the way he is currently pitching, he may soon get a second shot at Springfield.
|Pitcher of Month||Starter of Month||Reliever of Month|
|2016||Cards organization||The Cardinal Nation||The Cardinal Nation||2016|
|April||Austin Gomber||Kevin Herget||April|
|Player of Month|
|2016||Cards organization||The Cardinal Nation||2016|
In the upcoming days, look for our first monthly update to our Cardinals top 40 prospect rankings, exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation.
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