KC Royals: What Difference Does 1/3 Of An Inning Make?
By Bryon Parman
The KC Royals just finished one of the most exciting non-playoff series sweeps in recent memory. The offense, the defense, and the bullpen for the KC Royals all did their jobs and the Royals now find themselves in 1st place in the AL Central once again. However, now at the end of May, the KC Royals starting rotation has yet to find a rhythm.
In a way, the 2014 Kansas City Royals wrote a new book on how to construct a successful pitching staff. The KC Royals haven’t ignored the old adage that pitching wins championships. They have however changed how some GM’s are putting together.
The last few decades have seen staffs built from front to back where all the money was invested in the starting rotation with a few key bullpen arms to close games out. The Kansas City Royals however have weighted their pitching staff differently putting more AND better arms in the bullpen while pinching a few penny’s on the starting rotation.
KC Royals fans of course are all well aware of this and know that starting pitching is expensive, and the KC Royals simply cannot build a 100 million dollar staff. Which is also why projection systems hate the KC Royals and have projected them to scrape the bottom of the division.
More from Kings of Kauffman
- KC Royals Winter Meetings Tracker: Expectations met
- KC Royals Winter Meetings Tracker: Day 3 update
- KC Royals Winter Meetings Tracker: Day 2 update
- Winter Meetings: Any blockbusters for the KC Royals?
- Grading the 2022 KC Royals: The versatile Nate Eaton
While the Kansas City Royals do not need, or expect, their starters to all go 7 innings per night, they do need consistent production out of them. In 2014, the KC Royals starters averaged over 6 innings per start, and had 2 starters (James Shields and Jeremy Guthrie) both pitch over 200 innings.
In 2015, fangraphs.com statistics shows that the KC Royals had only Edison Volquez approach 200 innings (he had 198.1) in the regular season. As a team, Kansas City Royals starters in 2015 averaged 5.2 IP per start meaning that the bullpen had to pick up at least 79 more innings than 2014 not counting extra inning games or the post season.
So far 2016 has been even worse in terms of KC Royals starters eating innings. Right now Royals starters are averaging 5.1 innings per start. If this pace keeps up, the KC Royals bullpen will have to pickup an additional 79 innings (not counting extra inning games) over the 2015 Royals, and 158 more IP than the 2014 Royals.
I will fully admit that the 2016 KC Royals bullpen is deeper and more talented than the 2014 version. But The Royals are already carrying 1-2 more arms than several MLB teams on the 25 man roster. Now, with the recent injuries, the Kansas City Royals simply can’t keep adding arms to the pen to make up for poor and short starts.
Next: Five Things About Sweep Over The White Sox
While 1/3 of an inning may not sound like much, it adds up quickly and may begin to wear on a bullpen even as deep and talented as the KC Royals.