Don’t Blame the Bullpen


Within the bottomless pit that is the Royals’ struggles of the past month, there have some interesting complaints regarding the team coming from Twitter. The Royals offense is horrible. It’s demoralizing and depressing and all the other “de-” words you can think of. I think the best example of my mentality towards this team comes from the game I attended against Minnesota last night. My cousin was up in Kansas City on a trip for work. Having grown up in South Missouri, he’s a Cardinals fan, but he’s a fan of baseball in general and wanted to go to a game with me. What better game, I thought, then a game against the Twins? A game that the Royals could AND SHOULD win despite their apparent inability to drive in runs?

And yet the Royals continue to insist on making me look foolish.

Once the Twins put three runs on the board, I looked to my cousin and shook my head. I didn’t say anything but I’m sure despair was prevalent in my eyes.

“It’s only three runs, E,” he said. “They’ve got three innings to get back in the game. A single here, a hit batsman and one over the fence and they’re back in it.”

I shook my head and turned back to the game. The Royals frittered away the next six outs and I turned back to him as the Royals let the bottom of the 9th inning slip away like sand through their fingers. At this point, he was shaking his own head in disbelief. “Wow,” he said.

“Don’t worry about it,” I said. “You’re new here.”

I say this not to mock my cousin’s positive outlook, but to point out the mentality that Royals’ fans have been forced to take over the past month and change. For almost any other team, three runs with over three innings left is not insurmountable in the least. For the Royals, it is the Great Wall of China.

That being said, it annoys me that some people seem to want to take the focus off of the offense.

Currently the Royals bullpen E.R.A. is 3.11 which is good enough for 9th in the MLB. Their E.R.A. for the month of May was only slightly more than half a run higher than that at 3.71.

So that’s why it’s amazed me when I’ve seen people get mad at the bullpen for blowing the occasional lead we had late in game during May. Yeah, it’s not the best feeling in the world when your bullpen blows a one or two run lead in the 8th or 9th inning. But that’s going to happen a few times during the course of a 162 game season. The only reason it hurts so much is because our offense hardly gives us any leads at all.

Mainly where I’ve seen this bullpen dislike being espoused is on Twitter so my annoyance is partly my fault. You can’t expect to consistently run into educated fans on that form of social networking. But that doesn’t make it annoy me any less.

Don’t take the pressure off of the offense. We are awful because our hitters think scoring 5 runs in a game will somehow make them contract the bubonic plague. They’re at fault here. And I’ll admit, I’m not sure there’s really anything that can be done because we are not assured that Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, et al. are good hitters….we just hope they are.

But if they don’t find some way to pick it up, things will get worse before they get better.