Over the past few seasons, the Kansas City Royals bullpen has been one of their greatest strengths. This season has not been an exception, as the Royals bullpen has posted a 2.33 ERA, the second best mark in baseball. Opponents have mustered a mere .208 batting average against the Royals relievers; again, the second lowest mark in baseball. The Royals dominant bullpen is simply something that we may have started to take for granted at this point.
Even with the overall dominance of the Royals bullpen, there is a potential flaw. As the relief corp is currently constituted, the Royals have only one lefty in the bullpen, Franklin Morales. Morales has certainly done well this season, posting a 2.58 ERA and a 1.103 WHiP, but one has to wonder if that lack of a second lefty reliever will eventually become a problem.
Should the Royals look to make a move to bring in another left handed reliever, may already have that player in their system in Troy Patton. Signed to a minor league contract in April after being suspended to 80 games due to testing positive for amphetamines, his second such suspension, Patton has an opt-out clause in his contract that he can exercise on Saturday, giving the Royals three day to determine what they want to do with the lefty.
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During his career, Troy Patton has been a solid bullpen piece. He has produced a 3.25 ERA and a 1.166 WHiP in his 169 innings. Despite not having the role of a situational lefty, Patton has held left handed batters to a career .243/.284/.349 batting line with only 18 extra base hits in 330 plate appearances. That type of production is certainly valuable in a major league bullpen.
At Omaha this season, Patton has continued to pitch reasonably well, allowing five runs on 18 hits and two walks in his 14.2 innings of work. While he is not a strikeout pitcher, Patton has struck out eleven batters, showing that solid control which has typically been a constant throughout his career.
The biggest problem for Patton is where the Royals would be able to use him. He certainly has value, and his production at Omaha is worthy of a promotion to the major leagues. However, with the Royals bullpen being as deep as it currently is, there just is not any room. Unless Patton agrees to forgo that ability to opt out, he may not get that opportunity with Kansas City.
The Kansas City Royals would appear to have a useful bullpen piece in Troy Patton. However, due to the depth of their bullpen, they just do not have any room for him.