Atlanta Braves add to bullpen depth in trade with the Los Angeles Angels

Thursday night the Atlanta Braves increased their bullpen depth by acquiring a veteran righty reliever from the Angels.
The Atlanta Braves acquired righty reliever Jimmy Herget form the Angels
The Atlanta Braves acquired righty reliever Jimmy Herget form the Angels / Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves announcement of the acquisition of right-hander Jimmy Hegret wasn’t big news, but GM Alex Anthopoulos has a history of acquiring relievers few have heard of, such as Jackson Stephens, Tyler Matzek, and Dylan Lee, who played a key role in the team’s success. Many of those arms came up big in some of the most important innings postseason innings played. Herget could very well fill that role this year.

Atlanta Braves acquire Jimmy Herget from Los Angeles Angels

The Braves originally selected Jimmy Herget in the 40th round of the 2012 amateur draft but he chose to attend the University of South Florida instead. Three years later, the Reds selected him in the sixth round of the draft, and he made his Major League debut in 2019, throwing 6 1/3 innings in his only appearance.

The Rangers grabbed Herget off waivers on December 2, 2019, designated him for assignment 18 days later, and outrighted him off the roster in January. He returned to the roster in July and appeared in 20 games for Texas, throwing 19 1/3 innings with a 3.20 ERA,

Texas non-tendered him after the 2020 season, then signed him to a one-year contract for $700K, but he threw only four innings for the Rangers before they outrighted him to Triple-A in August 2021. Herget refused the assignment, became a free agent, and signed a minor league deal with the Angels.

He pitched well for the Angels at the end of the 2021 season and continued his good work in 2022, throwing 69 innings over 49 appearances, striking out 63, walking 15, and pitching to a 2.48 ERA and 0.913 WHIP.

Unfortunately, his 2023 wasn’t as good; he bounced back and forth between Triple-A and Anaheim a few times. He was designated for assignment and recalled twice before ending the year on the active roster. The Angels optioned him to Triple-A this Spring, where he made 10 appearances, throwing 11.1 innings, posting a 0.917 WHIP, striking out seven, and walking one before the Angels designated him for assignment.

According to Matt Monagan, Pitching Ninja Rob Friedman is the source of Herget's odd nickname,

"Pitching Ninja's Rob Friedman first coined the superhero-esque nickname for the Angels right-handed reliever, and it's pretty easy to see why. He comes at batters from varying arm angles, with frisbee-like, elite-level spin breaking off both sides of the plate. You may recall one of his pitches that went viral last season. He struck out Francisco Mejía on a slicing curveball that hit the Rays' catcher as he swung through it. The ultimate way to send someone, shaking their head, back to the dugout."

Herget is a true sidearmer who, according to StatCast, throws a curveball (38.3%), slider (31.0%), Sinker (19.3%), changeup (5.9%), and a four seamer (5.5%). At his best, he’s a heavy ground ball pitcher (44.6%), that batters find difficult to elevate (24.8% FB rate). Before joining the Angels, he kept the ball in the ballpark despite being a pitch-to-contact pitcher.

However, in his time with the Halos and in their system, he’s given up about twice as many homers. Part of that is because his Minor League innings came in the hitter’s paradise known as the PCL. The Braves will try to find out what changed and return him to his 2022 form.

He also gives the Braves control and flexibility. Although Herget’s been around a long time, he has one option remaining, becomes arbitration-eligible for the first time in 2025, and is under team control through 2028.

Herget joins Jackson Stephens, Ben Bowden, Tommy Doyle,  Ken Giles, Ray Kerr, Daysbell Hernandez, Zach Logue, Brian Moran, Jake Walsh, and Taylor Widener as relievers with Major League experience stashed at Gwinnett.

Walsh, Doyle, Bowden, and Moran have options remaining but aren’t on the 40-man roster. Only Herget, Kerr, and Henandez are on the 40-man roster and have an option remaining, moving them to the head of the line if the team needs to add a reliever.

The 40-man roster is full, but the Atlanta Braves could move Perdomo and Strider to the 60-day IL to open a spot if needed. However, the only reliever on the active roster with an option remaining is Dylan Lee. Watching bullpen management over the rest of the season should be interesting.

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