On May 15, manager Joe Maddon called on Jimmy Herget in the seventh inning against the Oakland Athletics to face a pair of hitters that have a history of punishing L.A. Herget retired those two and went on to finish the rest of the game, earning him his first Major League save.
Herget elected free agency following his departure from the Texas Rangers in August 2021, and the Angels signed him to a Minor League deal one day later and assigned him to their Triple-A affiliate.
Herget appeared in 14 games for the Angels in 2021, which signaled there was something the club liked about the tall, skinny, right-hander with a funky delivery.
Rob Friedman a pitching analyst known on Twitter as the “Pitching Ninja,” has highlighted Herget numerous times and refers to him as “The Human Glitch,” via Sam Blum of The Athletic:
“His arm slot is unique and so is his short and fast arm action,” Friedman said. “It just jumps out of nowhere. Because of that arm slot, he tends to get a ton of horizontal movement on his curveball and sinker. … His curveball sometimes looks like it just parachutes down, too, said Friedman.
“I don’t know of anyone who throws exactly like him. Unicorn pitchers are tough to prepare for. Also, fans and my followers love him because he’s so quirky. He does things that most pitching coaches would never teach.”
Aside from his first outing of the season on April 8 in which he allowed four runs, Herget has allowed a .216 batting average, posted a 3.04 FIP, and lowered his walk rate to 2.6%.
Herget has never tried to be someone he is not, and for that reason, he’s earned the trust of Maddon:
“I’m just being different, I think,” Herget said. “Obviously I’m a different look than 99 percent of baseball. … It’s natural to me. I’ve never thrown any different.
“It’s not something that I physically thought about. I grab it and I throw it, and that’s just how I throw.”
Herget primarily relies on his sinker roughly 37% of the time, his slider 32%, and curveball 22% of the time. He also mixes in a changeup and four-seam fastball occasionally.
While most relievers just throw two pitchers, and sometimes a third, Herget is able to use a five-pitch mix because of his advanced feel for pitching:
“He has a great feel for the baseball,” said Angels pitching coach Matt Wise. “His ability to change angles a little bit, change speeds — the slower curveball — is a swing-and-miss weapon. He’s able to backdoor sliders to lefties. He has as good feel for pitching.”
His ability quick delivery and stuff that breaks to both sides of the plate have made him a problem for big league hitters who don’t gameplan for the unconventional.
It seems the Angels have found a gem in Herget, who is quickly becoming a fan-favorite and an important piece of the Angels’ bullpen.
Andrew Velazquez blossoming with the Angels
When the Angels lost David Fletcher to a hip injury early in the season, there were questions about how the team would replace the utility infielder.
The Angels turned to Velazquez, who was in Triple-A Salt Lake posting a 1.138 on-base plus slugging (OPS). Regardless if it was in five games, the club believed he could fill the void, at least defensively, left by Fletcher’s absence.
While it wasn’t always easy to see Velazquez was an MLB quality player, he was confident he could stick if given the opportunity.
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