KC Royals: Is this relief pitcher a baseball “vulture”?

(Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports) /

When this KC Royals season started, everyone probably would have agreed that after 52 games, rookie reliever Collin Snider would be the club’s leader in victories.

No, you say? Well, here we are. Snider leads the team with four wins, only one fewer than all its starting pitchers combined.

Some might say Snider is a baseball “vulture,” which in the unique vernacular of the game means a reliever who may not necessarily do the hard work, but comes in and reaps the benefits, much like a vulture consuming a meal it had nothing to do with killing. He’s the pitcher who, for example, may come into a game with his team behind or the contest tied, pitch to a batter or two, watch his club suddenly take the lead, and earn the win. Former Dodger pitcher Phil Regan picked up the nickname “The Vulture” for collecting such wins.

Snider received a vulture-like victory Saturday against the Astros, but didn’t collect one when he came into Sunday’s game in the ninth inning. Despite a 7.20 ERA through Sunday, Snider is 4-2 with one blown save and six holds.

How KC Royals reliever Collin Snider has gathered four victories this year.

Snider’s good fortune started in the Royals’ second game of the season against Cleveland. Brad Keller and four relievers had combined for a four-hit shutout through nine innings, but the Kansas City offense wasn’t able to push a run across. Snider pitched a scoreless 10th and when Adalberto Mondesi singled home pinch runner Kyle Isbel, Snider had his first major league win in his first big league appearance.

Kris Bubic allowed only one run April 16 against Detroit but didn’t get out of the fifth inning. Snider finished the fifth and pitched the sixth in a 1-1 tie. Hunter Dozier’s two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth proved to be the difference in a 3-1 KC—and Snider—win.

Through his first six appearances, Snider had two wins and two holds without allowing a run.

Collin Snider picked up a four-pitch win for the KC Royals against Chicago.

After a loss to the White Sox April 27, Snider’s next “vulture” opportunity came May 18 against those same Sox when he relieved Zack Greinke with two outs in the sixth inning of a 2-2 tie. Snider got the last out of the inning and saw the Royals put up two runs in the bottom of the frame to take the lead. Josh Staumont replaced Snider for the seventh inning, but Snider ended up with the win after facing two batters and throwing four pitches.

Snider took a loss against Cleveland May 30, but found himself in the right place at the right time again Saturday against Houston. Bubic threw five shutout innings before Snider came on and tossed a clean, nine-pitch sixth. A two-run home run by Salvador Perez in the bottom of the inning provided what became the winning runs and Snider improved to 4-2.

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Daniel Lynch and Brady Singer each have two wins as starters, Brad Keller has pitched in tough luck to a 1-6 record and Zack Greinke, Carlos Hernandez, Jonathan Heasley, Gabe Speier and Bubic had combined to start 29 games through Sunday without a single victory among them. Seven relievers have at least one win apiece, and Collin Snider leads the entire staff with four. Does that make him a baseball “vulture”?