The Royals have announced that relievers Tim Collins and Francisley Bueno have been placed on the 15-day disabled list, and in their place, the team will bring up Michael Mariot and Donnie Joseph from Omaha. Collins and Bueno have both struggled in their limited action this season, as the former has walked 4 of the 9 batters he’s faced, and the latter has allowed 3 hits to the 7 batters he’s faced. According to Andy McCullough, Collins has a flexor strain in his elbow, and Bueno has a sprain and bone bruise in a finger.
One may initially assume the Royals are simply using the disabled list as a way to stash both underperforming pitchers. Since Bueno is out of options, the Royals cannot send him to Omaha for a couple of weeks without passing him through waivers first. However, Collins still has all 3 options remaining, so if it was just an issue of him pitching poorly, a demotion would make more sense (although the 10-day waiting period would also still be in effect). As it turns out, Bueno took a comebacker off of his hand yesterday, and from what little data we have, Collins may truly be hurt.
In his career, the little lefty has an average fastball velocity of 93.4 MPH, although prior to 2014, the lowest average velocity in any month since 2011 was 92.4 in September of that season. Thus far in April, Collins’ fastball is averaging 92.5 MPH, and while that is from just 28 pitches, it could still mean something. I also find it interesting that Collins has been so reliant on his fastball in the early going. Before this year, Collins has thrown the heater about 57% of the time, but that has been his pitch of choice 80% of the time, throwing a total of 7 non-fastballs. Injured pitchers may not want to go to their offspeed pitches as often. Granted, when a pitcher falls behind in the count as frequently as Collins has, he’s more likely to throw fastballs than offspeed or breaking pitches, so then we get into a chicken-and-egg discussion of why Collins is falling behind in the count, so I won’t go any farther down that path. It could be nothing, but I like that the Royals are being cautious here and giving an important reliever rest instead of trying to push him through it.
Joseph and Mariot will be quite valuable right away, since the bullpen has been used fairly heavily in recent days. Joseph is now the only lefty in the pen, and both pitchers have the ability to miss bats. They are guys many teams would have had on their Opening Day roster, but because of the Royals’ ridiculous depth, they are only called up in a situation like the team finds itself in currently.