Astros debate: Kelvin Herrera vs. Brad Hand

On the brink of summer, the Astro fans are rightfully upset with a bullpen that had problems closing out games in the 2017 playoffs and recently has struggled mightily closing out games in the 2018 regular season. As of June 1, the Astros were 7th in the AL in save conversion at 65% and seem to bring drama to every situation even when they are successful….especially Ken Giles.

So, what are the choices? Sure, you could move from Giles to another choice inside the organization like Hector Rondon, who was a closer for the Cubs for a couple of seasons or to Chris Devenski, who has been one of the Astros best, though over-worked relievers. Perhaps moving the very effective Collin McHugh to the back of the bullpen would be a better choice or even pulling Lance McCullers, who often has trouble going through lineups multiple times. But Rondon and Devo have both blown saves this season. McHugh has not shown he is going to be effective in back-to-back situations and you have to look at McCullers as emotional dynamite as a closer, as likely to melt down as to shut down.

It is fun to speculate on grabbing a top closer from another team, but frankly, the top closers on other teams are usually with contending teams and are not likely to be pried free to another contender. When you look at the MLB relievers with top save numbers and good ERAs and WHIPs, you might as well scratch-off the list Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrell, Cody Allen, Brad Boxberger, Sean Doolittle, Kenley Jensen, Brandon Morrow and Alex Colome, who was just traded for by the contending M’s.

So, you need to look at teams that are not contending and are not intending to contend for your best shots at closer help. Examples A and A1 may be Kelvin Herrera of the Royals and Brad Hand of the Padres.


  • Two time All-Star in 2015 and 2016
  • Has 12 saves for a team with only 21 wins on the season
  • Sparkling 0.83 ERA and 0.738 WHIP
  • Has not walked a batter in 21.2 IP
  • Has been great in the playoffs – a 1.26 ERA in 26 innings
  • As a rental will not cost that much in prospects


  • Would be a rental with no guarantee on signing him after the season
  • Was not good in 2017
  • Does not have a postseason save


  • Has been a high quality closer ever since joining the Padres in 2016
  • Has 17 saves in his team’s 25 wins this season
  • Has a strong 1.91 ERA and a 1.059 WHIP in 2018
  • Is signed through 2019 for a total of approx. $17 million – could be kept in 2010 for another $10 million or bought out for $1 million
  • Is a lefty reliever


  • Will require a substantial haul of prospects for multi-years of control
  • Has never pitched in the playoffs
  • Could be argued that between his years with the Marlins and the Padres has never pitched in a significant pressure situation
  • Has thrived in San Diego’s Petco Park which is a well-known pitcher’s paradise

What should the Astros do?

  • Stick with Giles tight roping through the regular season with help from the rotation during the playoffs?
  • Use Rondon, Devenski or McHugh from the current bullpen?
  • Move McCullers to the closer’s spot and move McHugh into the rotation?
  • Dip into the minors?  Not much there as far as high-level closers – James Hoyt? Brendan McCurry?
  • Trade for Herrera as a half-year rental?
  • Trade for Hand as a longer term solution?
  • Go after a dark horse like Blake Treinan (0.99 ERA and 13 saves) of the A’s or Raisel Iglesias (1.96 and 9 saves) of the Reds?
  • Wait for more teams to play their way out of contention and add to the available pool of closers?

What would you do?


102 comments on “Astros debate: Kelvin Herrera vs. Brad Hand

  1. Seth Beer, Clemson. First base, some outfield. Power lefty bat, great OBP, has already developed a great eye. Not a gem defensively, but he’ll probably go right into A ball and get fast tracked. Could be a full time DH not far down the road.


  2. DanP, I think most of us that post and those that just read would say the same. This is part of my day if I am on a computer. When I type “C” in the search box, it automatically finishes the So it is entertaining, interesting, opinionated, etc.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Everybody here can read the paper like I can, so this is not privy stuff. Hinch says this morning Springer “sets the temperature for the team.” Also, McCullers said this: “I feel really bad about letting my emotions get the best of me, and I spoke to them. I apologized, and it won’t happen again. [Altuve] was just letting me know that if I’m going to pitch with emotion like I do…channel it for the right things. McCullers added: “I’m not 21 anymore.”


      • Dan, I think the Astros should give you a job. You’re ahead of the curve (my perspective) in dealing with team issues. I’ll be your agent at the nominal fee of 15%.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Z – would love to have you as my agent….unfortunately you and I would right now be making identical money…..A big bagel…..


      • Agree with Zanuda. If they can’t pay you, they should at least give you access. If you remember, I asked you about this several months ago — whether you could occasionally talk to players, coaches, etc. Someone who intelligently analyzes and promotes the Astros as you do should be given “fresh meat” from time to time. And by “fresh,” I mean entirely original, derived from exclusive access, that is, interviews on at least the same level as pro sports reporters.


  4. It might work as a bit of a Mariner’s deflator to take this first game, which I am sure a lot of M’s fans and players have checked off as being heavily in their favor.
    Paxton is 4-1 with a 3.13 ERA and leads the league with 2 complete games and is tied for the lead with one shutout.
    This has to look like a sure thing against Dallas Keuchel who is leading the league in losses with 7. But Dallas has pitched better than his record shows and has fine career numbers against the M’s including a sparkling 2.67 ERA.
    This would be a great game to steal….

    Liked by 1 person

  5. After much deliberation and study I have figured out the F.O.’s strategy regarding the draft. They chose a guy who can hit like Babe Ruth, but can’t run to save his life or play a lick of defense BECAUSE they plan to mix his DNA in a test tube with DNA garnered from Jake Marisnick – who is the polar opposite.

    If this little feat of genetic engineering works, in about 20 years we will have a new, improved version of Mike Trout. I presume we’ll just call him ‘Beernick’.

    Liked by 1 person

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