The Brewers made an interesting waiver claim on Monday, picking up left-handed reliever Danny Herrera from the Cincinnati Reds. Herrera is known for a couple different things — being listed at just 5’6″ (that always seemed generous), and throwing a screwball.
The Brewers have been looking for a left-handed reliever ever since Zach Braddock was put on the DL with a sleep disorder and Mitch Stetter went on the DL with a hip problem/general ineffectiveness. They were linked to Franklin Morales before Colorado traded him to Boston last week.
As far as Herrera’s LOOGY potential goes, he’s put up some good numbers against left-handed batters so far in his big league career. In 177 plate appearances, he’s held lefties to a line of .206/.270/.284. For the sake of comparison, lefties have a line of .194/.310/.335 against Mitch Stetter and .152/.275/.212 against Zach Braddock. I’ve written about Stetter’s ineffectiveness as a LOOGY before due to that .310 OBP against, so Herrera at least represents an improvement there.
Something Stetter does do better than Herrera, though, is strike batters out. His spotty control is part of the reason why that opponent OBP is higher than you would like out of a lefty specialist, but his delivery does make it hard for LHB to pick up the ball. In 202 PA, lefties have struck out against Stetter 63 times. Herrera has picked up 35 punchouts against leties in 177 PAs. Considering the defense the Brewers are putting behind the pitcher and the type of situations a LOOGY will most likely be used, an argument could be made that Stetter’s ability to get a strikeout makes him more valuable in those spots.
Still, though, it’s hard to dislike the move to claim Herrera. The Brewers didn’t have to give anything up in a trade, and for the moment, they’re stashing him in Nashville. As we’ve seen with the slew of bullpen injuries this year (take a look at the 40-man roster, and how many relievers are hurt at the moment), you can never have enough bullpen depth. And we don’t really need to go over Doug Melvin’s history of success when it comes to waiver claims. If Braddock needs more rehab time and/or Manny Parra needs elbow surgery, Herrera should be a decent addition to the Brewers’ bullpen.
On a side note, fans of the Northwoods League may remember Herrera as a member of the La Crosse Loggers in the summer of 2005. You can bet he already has a fanbase there.