Kansas City Royals: How is the bullpen shaping up?

ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 24: Salvador Perez #13 of the Kansas City Royals congratulates Tim Hill #54 for closing out the in the ninth inning for the win against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on May 24, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 24: Salvador Perez #13 of the Kansas City Royals congratulates Tim Hill #54 for closing out the in the ninth inning for the win against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on May 24, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images) /

Last year the Kansas City Royals had one of the worst bullpens in all of baseball. As good as it was in 2015, it was as opposite in results as it could be in 2018.

Compared to last year, almost anything would be an improvement for the Kansas City Royals bullpen.

In fact, I believe the bullpen improved the moment Brandon Maurer, Justin Grimm, Blaine Boyer and Burch Smith were off the team. This group accounted for 181 hits and 141 runs in 143.2 innings.

To be fair, the Kansas City Royals would probably have released or returned all of them during the season if they had been in contention. Mostly these bodies were here to be traded for controllable prospects except for Smith. The club kept running this group out hoping they could put together enough quality innings to get someone interested. We know the results.

This season, I don’t think we will want to change the channel late in games as much. A group of pitchers are putting up some good numbers this spring. More than that, the ones I have watched are throwing strikes with confidence. They are challenging hitters. Six of them are standing out, and look like they could make a effective unit.

Kyle Zimmer

Who would have thought he would be having the best spring of any reliever. Kyle Zimmer is taking his opportunity and showing the talent the team has been waiting for. In 8.2 innings he has given up five hits, walked two, struck out seven and allowed NO RUNS! He is the only one of the six who has yet to yield one. The Kansas City Royals will need to be careful. Zimmer has not played a full season in his entire career with the organization. His health will determine how much he is used.

Michael Ynoa

Here is another surprise for me. At 6’7 Michael Ynoa is another tall pitcher with long arms the club seems to covet.  Another comeback player who is right handed with deception in his delivery. In almost eight innings he has given up six hits, and one run. He is most likely a back of the bullpen guy, but I believe better than the group listed above.

Tim Hill

Tim Hill had a good rookie campaign but I believe was a little overused. He made 70 appearances over the coarse of the year. Very effective against lefties, he had problems with right handed batters. He has been working on a change up this spring which would help against them. I like the way he goes after hitters.

Wily Peralta

This has been a typical spring for a veteran pitcher. He has been working on his pitches and has looked good. Wily Peralta will be put into high pressure situations the most when the season gets started. Having a year of relieving under his belt, he looks more confident in his role and preparation. With only one run given up and a WHIP of 0.90, he looks like he is ready to start the season.

Kevin McCarthy

This is another player I thought was a little over exposed last year. With 72 innings pitched, Kevin McCarthy was the middle of the game go to guy on a team with few good options. Mostly he did a good job. Once and a while he would give up a few runs, but a lot of them came by leaving him in the game too long and too often in my opinion. In six innings he has given up three hits and one run, while striking out seven.

Jake Diekman

Jake Diekman looks to be in the mix of players for high pressure situational moments. So far he is having a good spring. A left handed thrower, he comes at hitters with a somewhat three quarters to side arm delivery. Like Hill he can make left handed batters move in the box and still get a strike. He has given up two runs, but only four hits and two walks in just over six innings. He has also struck out seven. So far he looks sharp.

Other Options

Just under the radar is Richard Lovelady. In 8.2 innings he has given up two runs and struck out eleven. He has been a little inconsistent though and given up 10 hits and three walks. I expect him to begin the season at Omaha. Any injury or lack of effectiveness at the major league level could bring a quick call up. Lovelady is not on the 40 man roster, so someone would have to be removed for him to added to the big league club.

The rotation questions need to be answered before we know who else will be made available to the bullpen. This group to me is a much more talented group than what we started with last year. I doubt this will be the ones who are on the opening day roster. Contracts and other factors will most likely force other options.

Next. Jason Adam traded to the Blue Jays. dark

This year I believe the Kansas City Royals will be quicker to make changes if they get off to a good start. Anyone not performing on the big league club will probably have a short leash. That is if managements stated goal of not losing games is a honest one!