Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
Getting Through the Sixth Inning
While the backend of the Giants bullpen may be shaky, the Royals have not had that issue. Greg Holland has emerged as one of the top closers in the game, following his breakout 2013 season with an excellent 2014 where he posted a 1.44 ERA and a 0.914 WHiP, striking out 90 batters in 62.1 innings. Wade Davis put together one of the best seasons of any pitcher with more than 50 innings in major league history, allowing only five extra base hits in the regular season. Kelvin Herrera may be the best seventh inning pitcher in the game, as he, like Davis, did not allow a home run all season.
However, while the final three innings have been a virtual lock for the Royals, getting there has been problematic at times. While the starting pitching has generally been solid through five innings, getting through the sixth had been an issue if the Royals needed to get to the bullpen. The Royals even attempted to use Yordano Ventura in such a role during the Wild Card game, albeit without success.
Yet, it appears as though the Royals have found something that works in that role. The combination of veteran righty Jason Frasor and young lefty Brandon Finnegan have been able to bridge the gap between the starters and the back end of the bullpen if needed. Over the course of the playoffs, the two have combined to allow two runs on five hits and two walks in their 7.1 innings of work.
Even if that performance is not as dominating as the backend of the Royals bullpen, Frasor and Finnegan have certainly performed well. Now, the sixth inning may not be the struggle it had been.