KC Royals: Is Dayton Moore attempting to rebuild HDH?

KC Royals, Ian Kennedy (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
KC Royals, Ian Kennedy (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

KC Royals fans will never forget the World Series bullpen, but could Dayton Moore be trying to bring back the power and dominance?

Fans of the KC Royals likely remember many of the bullpen arms that were present during the World Series and the few years leading up to 2015. The bullpen was stacked and most teams knew that as long as the Royals could make it through the first part of the game with little damage, there wasn’t much they could do.

Unfortunately, the dominance of the KC Royals bullpen has fallen off completely and it has become one of the team’s biggest weaknesses. The previous years have seen a bit of a constant round-robin, testing out some free agent signings and minor league prospects to see who may have what it takes to stick.

So far, while there are some members of the Royals pitching staff that look to have a major league future, the future for the Royals seems very unknown.

After a 2019 of pitching woes where the team was able to get an obvious look at where they are falling short, it may have been assumed some well known pitching free agents would have been picked up and brought to Kauffman. We Royals optimists like to lie to ourselves sometimes about these things, only to be let down.

The Royals offseason was fairly quiet, to say the least, and as far as pitching talent goes the team sang the typical tune of reclamation projects. Yet, while many fans would have like to see some better-producing pitchers signed, instead of “hoping it will work out” minor league contract players, an interesting theme has taken form.

The question has to be asked, what exactly is Dayton Moore trying to build? It’s likely that Moore has decided to sign some of these pitchers to minor league contracts, hoping that if they bounce back he will have something to work with at the trade deadline. Not a bad idea and pretty typical.

But, is there another plan on the general manager’s mind? As the headline suggests, one (me) has to wonder if he isn’t looking back to look towards the future. The Royals bullpen of the early 2010’s is one of the reasons the team was present in 2 world series in the past decade and it’s possible Moore wants to return to that idea and level of pitching dominance.

Now, to suggest that the Royals bullpen in 2020 is going to do what Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland did is a bit ridiculous, but it looks as though Moore is putting together pieces that could, if able to bounce back, attempt a similar back end dominance in the bullpen.

Ian Kennedy already saw a resurgence in 2019 that he will hopefully carry into 2020. His strikeout rate was the highest of his career at 10.4 per nine, his walks were low, and once he was finally in the closer spot he seemed comfortable.

Recently the Royals added Greg Hollan back into the mix. While he has struggled the last few years, a minor league contract is low risk, especially if he can regain even a portion of his 2011-2015 form.

Add Trevor Rosenthal into that mix. The Royals signed him earlier to a minor league contract, hoping he could regain some of his production and power. His sample size is fairly small since 2017, but his strikeout rate has never really faltered, consistently sitting above 10 per 9. If he can regain control and lower his walk rate, at 29, he could still provide the Royals with a few more years of pitching.

Yet even if one of these players doesn’t work out, the Royals have some other powerful options, such as Scott Barlow who had a decent 2019 season, Richard Lovelady, Josh Staumont, and a whole heap of pitching talent coming up through the ranks.

The fact of the matter is the Royals have seemed to put together a group of pitchers than have power, including three veterans who have all seen time as productive closers.

It’s highly unlikely the Royals will see another “HDH” in the 2020 season, but if this is the thinking behind Moore’s moves, he is on the right track. Regaining a bullpen that can close out games and almost guarantee minimal scoring in the latter half of the game is one thing that will finally help the Royals start making a push for contention again.

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Now that spring training is getting underway, fans will be able to see who might make the pitching staff, and who might be sent packing. Keep an eye out for the heat as the team looks to be back on the path for bullpen dominance.