The KC Royals rode their dominant HDH bullpen trio to a surprising American League pennant in 2014. Today, their once-fearsome three-headed bullpen monster is completely broken.
Tuesday night, Kansas City Royals closer Kelvin Herrera gave up a three-run home run in the tenth inning against the Chicago White Sox to lose a tied game. It was the second time in his last three appearances that Herrera lost a tie game in the late innings by allowing a devastating home run. Though Herrera’s 2.13 ERA looks pretty good in the box score, he’s not nearly as reliable as the guy that helped the KC Royals dominate the late innings the previous two seasons.
With Kelvin Herrera failing, the Kansas City Royals three-headed bullpen monster has completely disappeared from the scene. Then closer Greg Holland finally admitted that his arm was hurting in September of 2015 and had Tommy John surgery on his elbow. The KC Royals were still able to win the 2015 World Series by installing Wade Davis as closer and using Ryan Madson as a seventh inning set-up man.
After 2.5 years of historic dominance, Wade Davis succumbed to forearm troubles in July. He’s been largely ineffective since, spending two stints on the disabled list where he now currently resides. The scary part is that forearm troubles often prelude a torn ulnar collateral ligament.
General manager Dayton Moore re-signed former Kansas City Royals closer Joakim Soria last winter to take Greg Holland’s place as a late-inning “monster”, but he’s compiled a 4.40 ERA in 2016. That’s just not dominant, especially when you add in his four blown saves and five losses.
After entering July with the best bullpen ERA in baseball, the KC Royals reliever ERA has crashed to a mediocre 3.47 (7th in major-league baseball).
The HDH bullpen has disappeared.
Though no one is saying it, the back end of the Kansas City Royals bullpen doesn’t scare opponents anymore. The KC Royals are 38-6 in games in which the entered the seventh inning with a lead. That looks pretty good until you consider they were 73-6 in the same situation in 2015. What’s even more telling how poorly the Kansas City Royals have performed in tied games in the late innings:
W/L Games Tied Entering the 7th: 13-8 5-6
W/L Games Tied Entering the 8th: 14-8 4-5
W/L Games Tied Entering the 9th: 8-8 1-3
W/L Extras: 10-6 4-1
In the recent past, the KC Royals enjoyed a distinct advantage if the game went into the late innings with a tied score. In 2016, the Kansas City Royals are really no better than a coin flip if they are tied in the late-innings.
What’s so scary about that?
Or, if you prefer to put it in something that Little Red Riding Hood might have said to the Big Bad Wolf, “Grandma, why are your teeth so blunt? Maybe it’s time for some new dentures.”