SURPRISE, Ariz. – Kelvin Herrera is the remaining reliever from a once-dominant Kansas City bullpen that included Wade Davis and Greg Holland.
Davis was dealt to the World Series champion Chicago Cubs during the offseason for power-hitting outfielder Jorge Soler. After missing last season due to a torn elbow ligament that needed Tommy John surgery, Holland signed with Colorado as a free agent.
"It's not going to be the 1-2-3 punch we've had the last couple of years," Royals bullpen coach Doug Henry said. "He's been there before. He knows what it takes to do it. We've all got faith it's going to happen this year. And we're going to need it to happen. He's going to be a big part of our bullpen
Herrera, a hard-throwing 27-year-old Dominican, learned from watching Davis and Holland, and he has inherited the closer's role. Herrera had 16 saves last season, filling in while Davis was on the disabled list. He struck out 86 and walked 12 in 72 innings.
"I got a little taste, a little flavor," Herrera said.
He has been impressive in the postseason, going 2-0 with a 1.26 ERA in 22 appearances.
"He learned being the setup guy that he can get people out at any time," Henry said. "He was facing the top guys in the lineup almost every time. He's definitely got the stuff. He's definitely got the mentality now."
A revamped Royals relief corps also figures to include Joakim Soria, Matt Strahm, Mike Minor and Chris Young.
"I like our arms in the bullpen," manager Ned Yost said. "They are going to be different names, but I think the stuff is going to be about the same."