Have the KC Royals developed a solid late-game punch in their bullpen?
It is an invaluable late-game component the Kansas City bullpen hasn’t featured consistently since the days Wade Davis was setting up Greg Holland. But heading into 2022, the Royals could possess one of the most potent one-two combinations in the game.
Start with Josh Staumont, 6-4 with a 2.93 ERA in three Royal seasons. He’s typically pitched from the sixth inning on but, over the last 20 games of 2021, went 2-1 with 11 holds and a 1.35 ERA the 14 times he entered games in the eighth.
Then consider that Scott Barlow followed Staumont in 11 of Staumont’s final 20 outings and earned saves seven times.
Then, consider Barlow led the majors in appearances two seasons ago and had a career high 16 saves and a career low 2.42 ERA this season. Manager Mike Matheny’s seeming reluctance to use the term “closer” too frequently notwithstanding, that’s precisely what Barlow has become.
With their numbers, and the way Matheny utilized both down the stretch, the KC Royals have in Staumont and Barlow something akin to the one-two punch Davis and Holland gave them in 2014 and 2015. If utilized as a new back-end twosome, they may not turn out to be as powerful as Davis-Holland, but they could come close. And that would be a pretty optimistic development.
The KC Royals improved this season. There are reasons to believe they’ll be better in 2022.