Kansas City Royals: How bad was the bullpen last year?

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 27: Manager Ned Yost
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 27: Manager Ned Yost /

The Kansas City Royals have made several changes to their bullpen in preparation for the 2019 season, which is good because their bullpen was among the worst in baseball.

Over the span of just a few days leading up to when pitchers and catchers reported, the Kansas City Royals signed Brad Boxberger, Drew Storen, and Jake Diekman. All of these arms, should they make the team, will aim to improve upon the shaky performance from last years group.

Among the new signings are players like Sam McWilliams, who the Royals picked up in the Rule 5, and Chris Ellis who they traded for as a Rule 5 selection. Let’s hope they both have Brad Keller type seasons.

Bullpen Numbers 2018

By almost every measurement, the Kansas City Royals bullpen was among the worst in baseball last season. This is where Fangraphs comes in handy.

In terms of fWAR, their mark of -2.2 was good for worst in the league. The group’s xFIP of 4.63 was the second worst in the league.

More stats to chew on, they were worst in the league in K/9 at 7.31. Their next closest competition was the Tigers at 7.92. So not really that close. They also had the fifth highest BB/9 of any bullpen in the MLB. Just to pile on, they were sixth worst in HR/9.

The Kansas City Royals bullpen was the fifth worst team per Fangraphs clutch rating at -1.47 and were in the bottom four in terms of win probability added. They had the second highest ERA in the league at 5.04, but they did hit the least amount of batters of any bullpen. So, silver linings.

By now, the point has been made. They were not great. But that was in the past and what matters is the 2019, and the Royals have made strides to improve.

In reality, could it really get any worse? The answer is technically yes, but no it can’t. It seems that Ned Yost is going to be relaxed as far as assigned roles go to start the year. That alone should help the Royals bullpen since they will have to earn their playing time.

The other thing that will help is that there are some cheap veterans looking to prove they can still play the game at a high level. It is not a perfect fix, and they won’t be a feared bullpen, but the Kansas City Royals might just find themselves in the middle of the pack, and that is improvement.

While middling is not the ideal strategy, the money won’t start flowing until the next wave of core youngsters hits. So for now, it is cheap contracts and crossed fingers hoping to find a gem.

A look at the potential first base platoon. dark. Next

The Kansas City Royals bullpen has nowhere to go but up…hopefully….and the front office has done a decent job to remedy that.