Kansas City Royals Bullpen a True Postseason Strength


Over the past few years, the Kansas City Royals bullpen has been an advantage. With the likes of Greg Holland, Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and the other arms that the Royals have had over the years, that bullpen has been the envy of baseball. Come the postseason, that bullpen strength is magnified even further. Just ask the Detroit Tigers how valuable a dominant bullpen can be; after all, they may have won a World Series over the past few years if not for their lack of viable relief arms.

Now, with the injury to Holland, the general expectation was that the Royals bullpen would not be the weapon it had been in the past. Even if Holland was not the same pitcher this year that he had been in the past, he was still a better than average pitcher despite his torn elbow ligament. As such, that loss of Holland was expected to put a major dent into the Royals hopes this postseason.

Yet, even with that loss, the Royals bullpen is still a major advantage. As Jon Heyman stated in his most recent look around baseball, scouts still consider the Royals bullpen to be one of the best remaining in the postseason, if not the best corps of relievers available. Davis, who had been perhaps the most dominant setup man in baseball, is thought to be the best closer left, on par with Kenley Jansen.

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In the postseason, a deep bullpen is truly an advantage. With the season hanging in the balance of a short series, where a loss leaves a team one step closer to hitting the golf course for the winter, having a pitcher go deep into games to minimize the wear on the relief corps does not matter as much. If a starter runs into trouble in the fourth or fifth inning, and starts to get battered, managers will jump to the bullpen quickly, especially if their season hangs in the balance.

Never was that more evident than during Game Seven of the World Series last year. Yes, Madison Bumgarner came in and led the Giants to victory in that pivotal game, but his five innings were all in relief. Having a bullpen, much like the one that the Kansas City Royals have been fortunate enough to possess, is certainly an advantage that few can match.

It is for that reason that other teams have copied the Royals strategy when it comes to investing in a bullpen. Teams like the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees spent significantly upon upgrades to their bullpens this past offseason, moves that, in part, helped catapult those teams to the postseason. Perhaps there is a slight bit of irony in the Royals having to face the Astros in the ALDS, as their method of team building came straight out of the Dayton Moore playbook.

Yes, the Royals will have decisions to make this offseason. Davis is set to receive a solid pay raise when the Royals pick up his option. Holland is likely gone, unless he comes back on an incentive laden deal that is geared towards the 2017 season. Herrera is also set to go through arbitration again, and Luke Hochevar, Ryan Madson and Franklin Morales will be free agents. However, if there is one area where Moore has excelled over the past few seasons, it is in finding help for the Royals bullpen.

The Kansas City Royals have a tremendous advantage over the opposition due to their bullpen. At some point, that strength will make an impact during the playoffs.

Next: Five Reasons the Royals will Defeat the Astros