Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Royals Links: Pitching Development, Plate Discipline, Greg Holland, & More

You may have missed this news yesterday, but Chris Getz will be making his triumphant return to Kauffman Stadium tonight. The Royals haven’t announced any celebration plans, but I’m assuming something is in the works. As for the current Royals, the pitching staff will be tested in the upcoming homestand, facing a pair of dangerous lineups in the Blue Jays and Tigers. Luckily for Kansas City, Toronto’s pitching staff isn’t quite as intimidating, meaning the offense could pick up where they left off Sunday in Baltimore. Let’s get to some links from the last few days.

– At Pine Tar Press, Clint Scoles has a thorough breakdown on the Royals’ pitching development, or lack thereof. He brings up quite a few excellent points, and presents an even-handed look at the successes and failures from the last several years. The organization has had some difficulties in bringing along starting pitchers, although not every case can be solely placed on their shoulders.

FanGraphs’ Mike Pitriello pointed out that while the Royals’ offense lacks power, pitchers still aren’t throwing them very many pitches in the zone. The Royals have proven they will swing at just about anything, and they also make contact on just about anything, so pitchers don’t have to live in the zone against them. With next to zero plate discipline and next to zero legitimate home run threats at the moment, pitching out of the strike zone is a pitcher’s best strategy.

– In a similar vein, Jeffrey Flanagan of FOX Sports Kansas City wonders why the Royals’ hitters apparently feel like drawing a walk is a bad thing. He points out the team’s poor numbers when in hitters’ counts of 2-0 and 3-0, which are, quite frankly, terrible. As the data shows, the Royals could increase their production by simply taking pitches when they’re out of the strike zone. Getting on base is literally never a bad thing.

Aaron Reese from KC Kingdom has an article on the rarity of elite relievers. Typically, bullpen arms are thought to be rather replaceable, and that is generally true. However, the upper echelon of relief pitchers – the echelon to which Greg Holland belongs – can be more difficult to duplicate with any other arm. There aren’t many guys of Holland’s ilk, suggesting the Royals’ closer is even more valuable than we previously assumed.

– Over at Grantland, Jonah Keri took a look at the sluggish offensive levels around baseball, and tries to identify some causes. Part of the reason for the lower-run scoring environment is an increase in strikeouts across the league, but perhaps a bigger driver in all of this is the increase in defensive shifts. Teams around the game are positioning their defenders in a more intelligent way against most hitters, which has led to much lower batting averages on batted balls. It will be very fascinating to see how hitters adapt to being shifted more frequently, and how the game evolves from where it currently is.

Tags: Kansas City Royals

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