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Former Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera retires

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We will always have “HDH”.

World Series - Kansas City Royals v New York Mets - Game Five Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Former Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera brought his ten-year MLB career to an end on Friday, announcing his retirement in a post on Twitter. Herrera was originally signed by the Royals, and spent the first eight seasons of his career in Kansas City. He was an All-Star in 2015 and 2016, and was part of the vaunted “HDH” trio of relievers that was the envy of baseball and helped lead the Royals to back-to-back pennants and a championship in 2015.

In his post, Herrera gave thanks to the Royals organization and fans.

“I want to thank everyone who has been a part of my career, starting with the Kansas City Royals organization who believed in this kid from Tenares, Dominican Republic and gave him a chance to do something meaningful with his life. From ownership, to the Front Office, the staff, my teammates and last but not least, the fans. I owe you guys everything.”

With a fastball in the high-90s and a plus change up, Herrera intimidated hitters as a dominant reliever. From 2014 to 2016, he posted a 2.30 ERA with 209 strikeouts in 211 23 innings, and totalled the 13th-most WAR by a reliever, according to Fangraphs. He was especially dominant in the post-season, allowing just four earned runs in 28 23 innings of work for an ERA of 1.26, with 38 strikeouts. But perhaps his most memorable post-season moment was when he made his only batting appearance in the big leagues, striking out against Giants reliever Sergio Romo in Game 3 of the 2014 World Series.

Kelvin could also be known for his fiery attitude and competitiveness on the mound. Early in the 2015 season, the Royals were engaged in an intense series with the Oakland Athletics. Tensions flared after Oakland infielder Brett Lawrie spiked Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar early in the series. In the Sunday afternoon game, Herrera threw a heater behind Lawrie’s back, sending a message that the Royals wouldn’t back down. He earned a five-game suspension for the stunt.

Herrera would take over the closing role once the Royals traded Wade Davis in 2017. He picked up 26 saves in 2017, and had 14 more in 2018 before the Royals traded him to the Washington Nationals for Blake Perkins, Kelvin Gutierrez, and Yohanse Morel. Herrera would sign a free agent contract the next year with the White Sox, but was released last year after giving up four runs in 2 13 innings.

Herrera’s 442 relief appearances are the third-most in Royals history, behind only Jeff Montgomery and Dan Quisenberry, and he is sixth in saves with 57. His 2.55 ERA is behind only Quisenberry in club history for anyone with at least 400 innings pitched, and his 24.3 percent strikeout rate trails only Joakim Soria in Royals history.

Thank you for all the great memories, Kelvin, and best of luck in your next chapter in life.