Sarah's Take: Matt Herges
After toiling in the Dodger minor leagues since 1992, Matt Herges spent his first season in the major leagues. Whenever the Dodgers needed a reliever to hold the opposition, Herges did the job. His superb relief work enabled the Dodgers to have many comeback victories. In August the Dodgers used him as a starter, but they found using him as a starter weakened the bullpen and the team. Herges played a crucial role in the Dodger success in 2000.
Because Matt Herges has incredible family support, he never considered quitting baseball. He made his major league debut in Houston in August 1999, and his parents drove from Champaign, Illinois, to witness his debut. When the Dodgers went to New York, his parents followed. In 2000 often a family member was in the stadium to see Herges play. This support has helped him to achieve his goal.
In 1999 Herges appeared in seventeen major league games with zero wins, two losses, and a 4.07 ERA. After the 1999 season Herges went to Venezuela to play winter ball. While there he developed a four-seam fastball that sinks. This enabled Herges to stay in the major leagues and succeed
Although Herges had a fantastic spring training in 2000, he was the twenty-fifth player to make the Dodgers. Several times in April the Dodgers considered demoting him to triple-A, but quickly he proved to the Dodgers that he belonged. Pitching fifteen scoreless innings in ten April games, Herges helped the Dodgers win. Davey Johnson discovered quickly that Herges could pitch a long period several times a week. As a reliever, Herges won eleven, lost none, and had a 2.57 ERA. His eleven wins were the second most in the National League by a reliever and broke a franchise record for the most wins by a reliever set in 1993 by Pedro Martinez. In August the Dodgers needed a starter, so Herges received the opportunity to start. Though he did not do badly as a starter, he won none, lost three, and had a 5.48 ERA. Because the Dodgers felt Herges was more useful to them as a reliever, he returned to relieving in September. Especially for a rookie, his eleven wins, three losses, 3.17 ERA, 75 strikeouts, and 40 walks are great.
Matt Herges’ contributions to the Dodgers’ bullpen helped to make it one of the best bullpens in baseball. Because relievers seldom win awards, Herges probably will not be the National League’s Rookie of the Year. He is the Dodger rookie of 2000.