Who fills out the back of the Kansas City Royals bullpen?
Over the past three years, the Royals bullpen has been a true strength. They made sure to keep that advantage this offseason, signing Joakim Soria to give the Royals a potentially dominant trio with Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis. However, beyond that trio, there are a number of question marks in the Royals relief corps, to the point where they have been looking for additional bullpen help.
Even though Luke Hochevar and Tim Collins are essentially locks to make the Royals, both have question marks. Collins is coming off Tommy John surgery, and his career 5.2 BB/9, declining strikeout rate (from 12.0/9 in 2012 to 6.4/9 in 2014) and 1.398 WHiP do not inspire confidence. Hochevar will be another year removed from his own surgery, and will look to build upon his 3.73 ERA and 1.283 WHiP.
Should the Royals go with a seven man bullpen, one final spot would be open after the battle for the starting rotation is figured out. Should Duffy be the odd man out, the Royals would have that second lefty reliever they may need. Otherwise, options like Brian Flynn and Scott Alexander could get a longer look. The young starters, like Zimmer and Almonte, may also be candidates for that final bullpen spot.
For most teams, that final reliever is not a major concern. However, the Kansas City Royals pride themselves on their strong bullpen, making this decision one that could matter over the course of the season.