Aug 23, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Kansas City Royals relief pitcherWade Davis
(17) reacts after the game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Kansas City defeated Boston 8-6. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
2. KC Royals Have Better Bullpen
Like most playoff teams, the Houston Astros have a good bullpen. The Astros ranked sixth in major-league baseball with a 3.27 ERA from their relievers.They have a solid closer in Luke Gregerson, with a 3.10 ERA and 31 saves. Houston also has two good set-up men in Will Harris (1.90 ERA) and lefty Tony Sipp (1.99 ERA).
But they’re not the Kansas City Royals.
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Along with set up men Ryan Madson (2.13 ERA) and Kelvin Herrera (2.74 ERA) and closer Wade Davis (0.94 ERA and 17 saves), the KC Royals boast a deep pool of middle relievers. Useful Franklin Morales (3.18 ERA) is the lefty specialist, Luke Hochevar (3.78 ERA) has better stuff than his results would indicate as he’s rounding into form after Tommy John surgery in 2014, and Chris Young is the outstanding long man (3.06 ERA).
Danny Duffy is also part of the bullpen mix, after Ned Yost pulled him from the rotation in September. Duffy has responded by pitching 8.1 shut out innings in relief, with 12 strikeouts. As a power lefty reliever who has the arm strength to start, he forms a formidable long-relief pairing with swingman Chris Young. With Young and Duffy in the pen, Ned Yost will have the luxury to pull a struggling starter before games get out of hand.
Further, with long men like Young, Duffy, Morales, and Hochevar, the KC Royals have middle relievers who can weather a long extra- inning game without compromising the bullpen the next day.
We can see the value of the deep Kansas City Royals pen from their ability to hold leads. The KC Royals were an outstanding 63-4 when leading at the beginning of the fifth inning. KC is even 61-8 when leading at the start of the fourth inning. Meanwhile the Astros were 51-11 and 47-13 in the same situations.
If Kansas City gets ahead early in the game, their deep bullpen will almost always nail down the win. This performance only figures to improve in the post-season, when manager Ned Yost will be more free to pull struggling starters due to the built in off days in post-season play and the increased importance of every win.
Next: Royals Rotation Is Getting Hot At The Right Time