Meet baseball's Human Glitch

Jimmy Herget has pitches you have to see and hitters hate to face

April 22nd, 2023

"Yeah, I've actually had a couple people recently call me that," Jimmy Herget told me. "Like fans, when I'm walking to the bus: 'Hey, Mr. Glitch!' It's definitely catching on."

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.

"At first, I thought maybe he fouled it off," Herget said. "It moves a lot. At first, I was trying to aim back leg, but I yanked it a little and I fooled him."

But who or what's behind the Glitch? Has Herget always pitched this way?

He has, for as long he can remember. It's just "normal" for him. He even threw from those arm angles with that spin while playing outfield at Tampa's Jefferson High School -- an institution that once had baseball greats like Fred McGriff, Tony La Russa, Tino Martinez and Luis Gonzalez walking through its halls.

"Infielders hated it when it was coming in," Herget recalled. "I've tweaked some things here and there with certain steps, but my arm slot has always been the same."

And his pitches, as you can see quite clearly in that Mejía clip, have gotten more baffling over the years. After a few subpar seasons with the Reds and Rangers from 2019-21, Herget's sinker and curveball ranked in the top 10 in MLB for spin in 2022.

"With Trackman and Rapsodo and all these slow-motion cameras we have, it's easier to kind of make [my pitches] better," Herget said. "[The spin] is something I've always had, but technology has kind of helped me hone in and gain movement in certain spots."

Along with the spin and herky-jerky windup, Herget also has a unique look when he's atop the mound. His stirrups, his goggles, his wiry 6-foot-3, 170-pound frame likely also add to his mystique on the mound. Just a blinding, blur of red firing fastballs and sinking breaking balls all over the strike zone.

Art by Tom Forget

"I've always done [stirrups], probably since middle school," Herget laughed. "My dad thought it was a good look and now it's just comfortable for me. I don't think I've ever worn regular socks."

It's a powerful, eccentric combo that saw him have great success with the Angels last season. He put up a 2.48 ERA with nine saves in 69 innings pitched.

You can sense he's enjoying it, too, grinning when the subject of him striking out current teammate Shohei Ohtani comes up, or studying his big strikeout of reigning AL MVP Aaron Judge from the night before.

Against Judge -- alongside the stirrups, the facial expressions, the arm angles, the spin and the movement -- he added a grunt for good measure. Another way to intimidate the hitters in the batter's box.

"Oh yeah, that's as hard as I can throw right now," Herget said, smiling. "I used to throw harder, but that's as hard as I can get it in there."

Herget has made the leap from, as he refers to himself, "Who's this guy coming out of the bullpen?" to a key cog in the Halos' relief corp. Someone you hope to see walk in through those bullpen gates when you're at the ballpark.