KC Royals: Ned Yost Harming Team By Refusing To Use Bullpen
By John Viril
The KC Royals suffered one of their most painful losses of the season Wednesday afternoon when the Toronto Blue Jays won ALCS Game 5 7-1 at the Rogers Centre. The worst part about it was the terrible strategy employed by Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost in the sixth inning.
In short, Yost made the stubborn decision to stick with starter Edinson Volquez after he had allowed a leadoff walk to Ben Revere to open the sixth inning, followed by hitting Josh Donaldson with a pitch. Already down 1-0, Yost only then began to warm up a reliever in the bullpen.
The inning unraveled quickly. Volquez, who had been dominant up until that point while allowing only a solo home run to Chris Colabello, walked Jose Bautista to load the bases and Edwin Encarnacion to force in a run.
Only then did Ned Yost call reliever Kelvin Herrera from the bullpen.
It was already too late.
Yes, Volquez got robbed of a called third strike against Jose Bautista (home plate umpire Dan Iassogna later apologized). But letting Edinson Volquez pitch to Toronto’s sluggers for the third time was already a bad idea.
Kelvin Herrera struck out Chris Colabello, but then gave up a double to Troy Tulowitzki that cleared the bases. Though Herrera then retired catcher Dioner Navarro and Kevin Pillar, the KC Royals trailed 5-0.
Reliever Danny Duffy allowed single runs the seventh and eighth innings, countered only by a solo shot from Salvador Perez in the eighth inning, to reach the 7-1 final.
Much of the blame rests on manager Ned Yost, who stubbornly refused to use his well-rested bullpen when Volquez put the first two hitters on in Wednesday’s sixth inning. Instead, he asked Edinson Volquez to pitch to the heart of the Blue Jays powerful order for the third time.
As Fangraphs.com writer Craig Edwards pointed out, Volquez only threw seven of 16 pitches in the strike zone in the fifth inning, despite retiring the side without an issue. His fastball velocity had also dropped by 2 miles per hour from the first inning.
It was inexcusably bad decision-making.
Reviewing the Brew
Yes, Yost had made a similar decision in Game 1 and was rewarded by a Houdini-like escape by Volquez in a 36-pitch inning. Then he watched Johnny Cueto and Yordano Ventura fail to escape jams in Games 2 and Game 3. Yost wisely pulled Chris Young in Game 4 before he could finish the fifth inning when confronted with Josh Donaldson and a man on first while holding a 5-2 lead.
I thought Ned Yost had learned his lesson. Ignoring the well-established spike in batter success the third time they face a pitcher is stupid when you have the best bullpen in baseball, while playing must win games in the playoffs.
But, apparently, getting burned once in this series isn’t enough. Ned Yost needs to fail twice before (maybe) learning his lesson.
Yost’s blunder has resulted in a dire consequence. Toronto manager John Gibbons said before the game that he would use ace David Price in relief if necessary to stave off elimination. Instead, opening a five-run bulge allowed Gibbons the luxury of saving Price to start Game 6 in Kansas City on Friday.
What makes Yost’s failure to have a reliever warming as Volquez hit the third time through the Toronto order so ridiculous, is that with a travel day on Thursday, the entire KC pen should have been available to pitch.
Ned Yost’s insistence on “believing” in his shaky starters not only has cost his come-from-behind lineup a shot at stealing a win against the Blue Jays in Game 5, it has now allowed Toronto to get one step closer to pulling off their second miracle comeback when facing three elimination games.
This Toronto Blue Jays club defeated the Texas Rangers down two games to none in the ALDS. Now they have to think they can do the same thing to defeat Kansas City.
KC Royals fans just has to hope that manager Ned Yost has learned his lesson. Having the best bullpen in baseball doesn’t help you UNLESS YOU USE IT!!!
Yost needs to have a reliever warming the next time the KC Royals find themselves in a tight game and the heart of Toronto’s order is set to face a starter for the third time in a game.
Anything less would be gross managerial negligence.
Next: Troy Tulowitzki Helps Toronto Down Royals 7-1 In ALCS Game 5