KC Royals Bullpen Adjusting To New Roles After Injuries
By John Viril
The KC Royals bullpen has bounced back from an awful July in which they lost both Luke Hochevar and Wade Davis to injury. In August, the bullpen is again helping the team win.
Opponents blasted the Kansas City Royals bullpen for a 5.96 ERA in July, which was the second-worst mark in major league baseball. Their struggles continued into early August, culminating in back to back collapses by Joakim Soria and Kelvin Herrera that caused me to proclaim that the KC Royals bullpen was completely broken.
Not so fast.
In the last week, the Kansas City bullpen has suddenly tightened up. The Royals relievers have held opponents to a 0.47 ERA with two saves over the last seven days. Yeah, it’s only a week. But the rebound coincides with an 8-2 run. KC Royals fans now hope that their team can make a late-season push for the playoffs.
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With Wade Davis on the shelf since late July, Kelvin Herrera has taken over as closer, Joakim Soria as eighth inning set-up man, and Peter Moylan as the seventh inning guy.
Herrera has nailed down two straight saves without allowing a run. This success comes after giving up a three-run, 10th inning shot to lose an extra-inning game against the White Sox. After blowing a save in Kansas City’s 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay August 4, Soria has pitched six straight shutout innings.
Meanwhile, Peter Moylan has settled in to take over the seventh inning role with his sidearm delivery. Rookie Matt Strahm has become the lefty specialist and has shown nasty stuff while allowing only one run in 5.0 innings.
Even more impressive has been Chris Young‘s comeback. After making 13 awful starts in which opponents blasted him for 26 home runs and an atrocious 7.39 ERA in 56.0 innings pitched, Young has thrived as a reliever. The 6’10” reliever has held hitters to a 2.29 ERA in 19.2 innings coming out of the bullpen.
Young hasn’t allowed a run in his last five appearances, which has covered 8.1 innings. He earned a win on August 2 by holding Tampa Bay scoreless was the KC Royals rallied for a 3-2 win. He earned a save by pitching three shutout innings in Kansas City’s 11-4 victory over the Twins on August 14.
Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost attributes the bullpen’s recent success to his relievers becoming accustomed to new roles.
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Whatever the reason, the KC Royals bullpen resurgence is a hopeful sign that they can finish out the season strong. They’ll need to keep it up for KC to sneak into the AL playoffs.