Kansas City Royals: Five Biggest Surprises in 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 14: Jakob Junis. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 14: Jakob Junis. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images) /
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DETROIT, MI – SEPTEMBER 4: Scott Alexander
DETROIT, MI – SEPTEMBER 4: Scott Alexander /

Bullpen Lefties

The Kansas City Royals bullpen has been a wasteland for much of 2017. It’s been a place where leads have gone to die. The offseason departure of Wade Davis didn’t help. Neither has the struggles of Kelvin Herrera, Brandon Maurer and Joakim Soria.

The only thing keeping the bullpen afloat has been the work of its left-handers.

The trio of Mike Minor, Scott Alexander and Ryan Buchter have been collectively outstanding for the Kansas City Royals over the course of the season. (Or since the trade deadline in the case of Buchter.)

Minor had a near-flawless first half of the year. Coming off a lengthy rehab process following shoulder surgery, he was a pleasant surprise in the first half of the year—even earning some love on our midseason awards list. Minor struggled early in the second half—regression to the mean, as it were—before coming on strong in September.

When Minor struggled during July and August, Alexander was there to pick up the pieces. The 28-year-old allowed just seven earned runs over 28 innings during the heart of the summer. He’s come back down to earth in September with a 4.50 ERA. However, it’s been impossible not to call 2017 a breakout success for Alexander.

Coming over from San Diego along with Trevor Cahill and Maurer, Buchter was the least heralded of the additions. Ned Yost tabbed Cahill the rotation’s No. 5 starter. Maurer had been closing for the Padres, so he looked to be a major upgrade. Neither has worked out, but Buchter has been tremendous. In 25 appearances with the Kansas City Royals, he has a 1-0 record with a 3.04 ERA and 0.93 WHIP.

Collectively, the three lefties have thrown 163 2/3 innings for the Kansas City Royals. They have a combined 3.34 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. In a year when their right-handed counterparts have struggled, the bullpen lefties have kept the Kansas City Royals in the hunt longer than they probably should have been.