It’s time for the KC Royals to part ways with pitching coach Cal Eldred before it’s too late for the team’s young pitchers.
It’s actually past time, but after the bullpen blew a 5-0 lead and ruined Jonathan Heasley’s excellent start in a 7-6 loss to Houston Monday, it’s getting more and more difficult to defend Eldred and the performance of his pitchers.
Through 78 games—nearly half a season—the Royals’ 4.92 ERA ranks 27th among 30 teams. After issuing six walks Monday, they passed Washington for most in the majors, and they’re 29th in strikeouts.
And with Monday’s loss, the team has blown 11 of 28 save opportunities.
How bad are Cal Eldred’s pitchers?
(Some statistics and all rankings in this story are from mlb.com).
KC Royals starters have some miserable 2022 major league statistics.
Only the Pittsburgh Pirates with eight have fewer victories from starting pitchers than Kansas City. Royal starters have a 5.07 ERA, better than only three big league teams. They average five innings per outing.
With 153 walks, the KC rotation has given up the fifth-most in baseball and its .273 OBA is fourth highest.
The first inning has been a particular struggle—Royal starters have a miserable 6.00 first-frame ERA. Only the Texas Rangers are worse.
Middle innings continue to be a problem for the KC Royals under Cal Eldred.
In the second through fifth innings, KC’s team ERA is below the season average, but in the sixth, it balloons to 5.08, then to 5.88 in the seventh. The eighth inning ERA is 5.77. Clearly, middle relief is glaringly inadequate and must be addressed.
Take Monday’s game for example. Wyatt Mills, Amir Garrett and Taylor Clarke collectively gave up four runs on three hits and four walks in the seventh and eighth innings to surrender 5-2 and 6-3 leads.
Scott Barlow then coughed up a two-out ninth inning home run for the game winner, but the contest reached that point only because the bullpen failed.
Visits to Omaha this season seem to have helped two KC Royals pitchers.
Have trips away from Kansas City helped any Kansas City hurlers? It seems so. The Royals sent Brady Singer to Triple-A Omaha in April when he had a 6.35 ERA in three appearances. Since his return, he’s 3-3 with a 4.08 ERA and threw 14 scoreless innings in his first two starts after getting back to Kansas City.
The club dispatched Kris Bubic to Omaha after he went 0-3 with a 12.83 ERA in six games. Since his return in June, he’s posted a 4.50 ERA and given up just 15 walks and two home runs after walking 11 and yielding five homers before going to Omaha.
Whatever Cal Eldred is doing isn’t working. With a group of starters all under 26 (with the exception, of course, of Zack Greinke, who’s 38), the Royals need to move on to someone who can nurture the young staff and teach its members how to become effective big league pitchers.
The Royals need to cut ties with Cal Eldred.