Broxton’s signing this winter was first seen as a way to build a dynamic bullpen with the former All Star in the mix. Perhaps he could return to form as a successful reliever after a year and a half of injury and ineffectiveness. Now, he’s thrown right back into the key spot in the back of a bullpen.
It’s been said a few times, but the bullpen was one area where the Royals were deeper than many teams, so many other players could have stepped into Soria’s role.
Yost said that Broxton’s previous experience is what won him the role. As a Dodger, Broxton had 32 holds in 2008 before taking over as closer. In 2009, he saved 36 of 42 games and struck out 12.5 batters per nine innings in the two years. In 2010, he started the year with a 0.83 ERA through 32.2 innings and had a 48/5 K/BB ratio. On June 27, he threw 48 pitches in an appearance, giving up four runs in one inning. Over the next 29.2 innings pitched including that outing, he had a 7.58 ERA with five blown saves in 11 chances and a 25/23 K/BB ratio. Many blamed Dodgers manager Joe Torre for overuse and he missed most of 2011 with a sore elbow.
Yost says he’s healthy enough to close on consecutive days, though.
Greg Holland is probably going to see some closing opportunities if Broxton can’t go on a given day.
There are a few things at work here, including a reliance to stick with someone who has “closer experience”. Broxton also isn’t likely to see a lot of outings that take him beyond one inning, so that makes it easier for Yost to put him at the back of the bullpen. Holland is also free to come in for appearances to get the last out or two in an inning and stay in for the next one, which should get him more innings, which is favorable since he’s the best reliever on the team now.
Broxton struck out 11 in eight innings of work during spring games, giving up one earned run. On a few occasions he was hitting the upper 90s with his fastball. If he falters, Holland is right there to step in and Kelvin Herrera, who made the cut, or Aaron Crow could get a look as well.