If anything is certain about Kansas City’s bullpen visa-a-vis its starting rotation, it’s that the former is a little bit better than the latter. But that doesn’t mean new KC Royals General Manager J.J. Picollo can ignore the bullpen this winter. While he may devote more time and attention to supplementing the rotation, the relievers require some retooling. The additions this season of Domingo Tapia and Joel Payamps have paid off handsomely, and Josh Staumont and Scott Barlow are developing into a strong late-inning pair, but weaknesses must be remedied.
With changes in store, four relievers who’ve pitched regularly in Kansas City this year might not be back next season. And there could be more.
It looks like it’s time for the KC Royals to move on from two bullpen legends.
Almost six full seasons have passed since Kansas City won the 2015 World Series. Two of the main reasons the Royals reached the Fall Classic didn’t remain in Kansas City long: the club didn’t tender a 2016 contract to closer Greg Holland, who saved 32 games before a UCL injury ended his season in September, and Wade Davis, who replaced Holland and then saved 27 games in 2016, moved on to Colorado after that season ended.
Holland returned via free agency last season and posted a stingy 1.91 ERA with six saves.
Davis came back this season and saved the Royals’ Opening Day win. He is not, though, the Davis of old. He was 0-2, 8.06 at the All-Star Break; although he’s been better since, he’s still 0-3, 6.75.
Davis went on the Injured List with right shoulder inflammation four days after allowing Minnesota three runs, three hits and walking two in just an inning Sept. 11. The Royals transferred him to the 60-day list a few days later, so he won’t pitch again this season.
Holland also spent time on the IL with a shoulder issue this season and, like Davis, hasn’t pitched well. He’s 2-5, 5.16 and has blown half as many saves (four) as he’s converted (eight).
It’s time for the Royals to move on from the two legends. Davis is 36 and Holland will be in November, they can’t get hitters out like they used to, and injuries have become a problem for both.