For the most part, the Kansas City Royals bullpen is a formidable group. Greg Holland and Wade Davis are two of the best relievers in baseball, while Kelvin Herrera and Jason Frasor have performed quite well for the Royals. If there is one perceived weakness in the bullpen, it is the Royals lack of a solid left handed option.
Francisley Bueno appeared to be just that over his first eleven appearances. Overall, his numbers still seem solid, as Bueno has posted a 3.71 ERA and a 1.275 WHiP, striking out 18 batters against six walks in 26.2 innings of work. For a middle reliever, that is certainly an acceptable performance.
However, it seemingly appears as though the league is starting to figure Bueno out. Even though Bueno had been dominant in his first eleven appearances, when he posted a 0.71 ERA and a 1.105 WHiP, he has struggled since that point. Over his past twelve outings since July 8th, Bueno has posted a 1.357 WHiP, which is solid, but has a 6.43 ERA over that stretch.
What has caused the difference in fortunes for Francisley Bueno? His line drive rate is essentially the same, as hitters had an 18% line drive rate on Bueno during the first part of his campaign, and a 17% rate over the past twelve games. His strike percentage has the same 1% difference, going from 65% over the first eleven games to 64% since. He has had the same velocity on his pitches throughout the season. It certainly does not appear as though there has been an appreciable difference in how he has performed, just in the results.
If anything, it would appear as though Bueno has been victimized by bad luck with the batted ball. Bueno’s batting average on balls in play has jumped from .273 as of July 5th to .326 since that point. Not surprisingly, opponents have an OPS of 243 points higher in that time.
With a bit more luck defensively, Francisley Bueno could get back to being that serviceable lefty reliever that the Royals seemingly need. Even though he may not be as good as he looked at the start of the year, he also is not as bad as he has been either. Bueno is likely somewhere in between; perhaps even what his overall statistics claim as his overall production.
With Scott Downs on the disabled list, the Royals need to be able to rely upon Francisley Bueno. At least according to his peripheral statistics, they may be able to do just that.