The KC Royals mighty bullpen is showing some cracks early in the 2016 season. Can the pen rebound to it’s former exceptional standard, or will it suffer from regression in 2016?
In an earlier post titled “Royals Early Starting Rotation Evaluation“, we took an in depth look at the successes and failures of the Kansas City Royals starting pitching rotation to this point in the season. In this article, we take a similar look at the KC Royals bullpen.
So far, the Kansas City Royals bullpen is a mixture of feast or famine. Newly acquired arms Dillon Gee and Chien-Ming Wang, two of the KC Royals long relievers, have fared above league average so far this season posting 2.93 and 3.48 ERA’s respectively.
So far, the Royals bullpen is a mixture of feast or famine
Both have been called into service in some of the Kansas City Royals blowout losses but their numbers appear to show that they could be called upon in much higher leverage situations in the future. Especially Gee who has an ERA below 3.00, but he needs to cut down on the walks walks which helps explain his high FIP.
Luke Hochevar and Joakim Soria have both had a bit of mixed results. Hochevar has been called on as the fireman in several high leveraged situations thus far and has, for the most part, gotten the job done. But he has also had a few innings where he has given up 3 or more runs which explains Hochevar’s ERA being the highest on the team.
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Soria struggled early giving up too many walks and then being hurt by softly hit balls that just found holes. If Soria can keep the free passes to a minimum, his ERA should come down and help gain the trust of KC Royals fans and management.
Danny Duffy has also been a bit of a mixed bag. Duffy, the lone lefty in the pen though I heard Brian Flynn may be joining the Kansas City Royals soon, has excellent stuff with high velocity and a wipeout breaking ball. But there are times he has trouble throwing strikes and is also susceptible to the long ball. Duffy’s ERA is about league average but for the KC Royals, league average isn’t good enough.
The two bullpen aces, Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis, have yet to allow a singe run with them both sporting superhuman ERA’s of 0.00. Herrera is keeping the bases fairly clean with a well above average strikeout rate, low walk rate, and low opponents batting average. Daves on the other hand has had a bit of a walk problem early on for the Kansas City Royals, but his microscopic opponents batting average of 0.091, and higher than average strikeout rate has kept other teams off the board.
The KC Royals average bullpen ERA is 2.84, almost a full run below the MLB average. However, the bar has been set pretty high since 2014. As of right now though, it appears Kansas City Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland and manager Ned Yost still don’t have the 3rd head for the “Three Headed Monster” they had the last two years.