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Royal pain in the 9th: Kelvin Herrera earns save on Sunday

Andy Behrens
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Kelvin Herrera cleaned up a Greg Holland mess on Sunday...not easily, but he did it (USAT Images)

On Saturday, Royals closer Greg Holland blew a save chance against the Phillies, walking the first three batters he faced, failing to protect a two-run ninth inning lead. After the loss, Holland received a partial vote of confidence from his manager:

“We’re not going to lose (many) games like that,” [Ned] Yost said, “without making an adjustment. But we’re not near that point yet.

“You don’t like losing games like that. And every time you do, everybody wants to pop the closer question."

Not the strongest endorsement you'll ever hear, but technically it still counts as a vote-of-confidence. Barely.

On Sunday, Holland again was called upon to get the final outs in a game his team led by a pair of runs. He retire the first batter he faced, but then allowed consecutive singles to Ryan Howard and Michael Young ... and at that point, Ned Yost had seen enough.

Kelvin Herrera entered the game in relief of Holland. He immediately gave up a run-scoring single, then uncorked a wild pitch, advancing the base-runners. But he eventually struck out catcher Erik Kratz in a 9-pitch at-bat to end the game, earning a messy save.

Many of you will recall that Holland was a wreck last April (6.1 IP, 13 H, 8 ER, 4 BB, 10 K), yet he still finished the season with a 2.96 ERA and 91 Ks in 67.0 innings, plus he saved 16 ball games. We're not talking about a terrible pitcher here. Perhaps a low-ball fantasy trade offer wouldn't be the craziest idea.

But Herrera is terrific, certainly capable of running away with the closing gig if given a chance. His average fastball velocity last year was 98.5 mph, so his arm is lively enough. He's definitely not the only quality reliever in KC's 'pen — Aaron Crow and Tim Collins are still around — but he's likely Plan B, after Holland. (Both guys have pitched on back-to-back days, so the team might need to try Plan C on Monday).

Consider grabbing Herrera today, ahead of the rush. He's available in 86 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

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