KC Royals: Five Keys To Taking The Pennant In ALCS Game 5

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Oct 17, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals relief pitcher

Luke Hochevar

(44) pitches during the sixth inning against the Kansas City Royals in game two of the ALCS at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

3. NED YOST NEEDS TO RIDE HIS BULLPEN

KC Royals manager Ned Yost needs to show the same early hook with Edinson Volquez that he did with Chris Young in Game 4. In short, if Volquez gets in trouble while facing the meat of the Toronto order for the third time, Yost should not hesitate to call on his well-rested pen.

Earlier in the playoffs, Ned Yost decided to stick with Volquez in the sixth inning of ALCS Game 1 after the first two hitters reached base with no outs. Steady Eddie rewarded his manager with a 36-pitch inning and escaping without any damage to preserve a 3-0 Kansas City Royals lead.

However, similar faith in fellow Dominican starters Yordano Ventura and Johnny Cueto blew up on Yost. In Game 2, Yost stuck with Ventura after he opened the sixth by allowing a single and a walk. He watched at Ventura surrendered two runs to put the KC Royals behind 3-0 while leaving Luke Hochevar to clean up a one-out, bases-loaded mess.

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Hochevar wiggled out of the jam without further damage, and the Kansas City Royals rallied to score six runs in the last three innings to win 6-3. But, Yost did not help matters by sticking with Ventura.

Similarly, Yost could have pulled a struggling Johnny Cueto in the third inning on Monday after giving up a three-run shot to Troy Tulowitzki—or, even better, pulled him when Cueto opened the third inning by allowing the first two hitters to reach base after giving up three runs in the second. Instead, Yost stuck with Cueto and watched him get charged with eight earned runs when reliever Kris Medlen allowed a two-run dinger before he could finish the third inning.

The KC Royals found themselves down 9-2 after that debacle. Had Yost pulled the plug earlier, he might not have squandered a Royals rally that fell three runs short in an 11-8 loss.

Game 5 is for all the marbles and middle reliever Luke Hochevar is hot. If Volquez gets in trouble, Ned Yost needs to ride his best-in-baseball bullpen for all it’s worth. Win today, and you’ll have six days to rest before the World Series.

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