Kansas City Royals: More than one way to build a bullpen

(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /
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Kansas City Royals, Wade Davis
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Royals bullpen got a lot of negative attention from fans this season. But, the starting rotation may well be the real culprit.

Kansas City Royals fans were undeniably spoiled by the bullpens of 2013, 2014, & 2015. And it was not just the superhero triumvirate of Herrera, Davis, and Holland. Nearly everything we tried in those years with our bullpen worked. Not only did it seem that we had developed our own inexhaustible supply of Will Smiths and Louis Colemans and Scott Alexanders, but we would also plug-in any Ryan Madson or Franklin Morales and they would pitch well.

I am still not completely convinced that Francisley Bueno was even a real person. I have no idea where he came from. He seemed to never exist before he pitched for the Royals and then disappeared into the ether once we were done with him. But, I swear, I watched him pitch for us out of the bullpen in 2014 and he was…good?

Back here in the present, though, we have had to deal with the realization that building bullpens are actually very difficult. And, now that we have watched inning after inning of the Peraltas and Boyers and Maurers I would gladly sacrifice my family pet (sorry Bunchy cat) for just a few months of a 38-year-old Peter Moylan.

We also need to admit to ourselves that some of the things that went perfectly during those incredibly good bullpens may have been luck. Maybe as unlucky as we were with Jake Diekman in 2019 is as lucky as we were in 2015 with Ryan Madson. Maybe constructing bullpens is less like solving a difficult mathematical equation and more like playing craps while someone else is throwing the dice.