KC Royals: Breaking down an inning of John McMillon

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The setting: T-Mobile Park, Sunday afternoon.

Situation: Royals trail 2-3, 8th inning of series finale. Royals face their first sweep in more than a month.

McMillon came into the 8th with the best of the Mariners lineup. He faced the 2-3-4 in the lineup, starting with All-Star outfielder Julio Rodriguez. Here is how that three-pitch sequence looked:

Three sliders, three strikes. Was the last called strike borderline? For sure, and I do not fault Mariners fans for being mad about that call. But, baseball fans know that a batter must expand their zone in any two-strike situation. All told the green McMillon took down one of the best batters in MLB. That was McMillon's first out in Seattle.

The second batter he faced was a five-pitch sequence against Mariners third baseman Eugenio Suarez. The infielder came into Sunday with a hot bat in August, sporting a .274/.373/.432 slash line. This is how McMillon got the veteran out:

McMillon needed five pitches against Suarez, but this out showcased his arsenal better. Two well-placed fastballs low and away from the batter froze Suarez on the fourth pitch. Three fastballs in a row averaging 97.6 MPH will play well off a sharp-breaking slider in the same part of the plate.

This is good tunneling from McMillon, in my opinion. In the box score, this notched another out for McMillon and again marginally increased Kansas City's chances of winning. Two outs, nobody on by McMillon's nemesis came to the plate.

Remember how he only has one hit, run, and home run all season? Seattle catcher Cal Raleigh added that blemish in McMillon's debut series. With two outs and the Royals still very much in the game, this is how that looked:

This was an eight-pitch battle that the reliever ultimately won. McMillon's locating pitches remained steady, putting five or eight pitches high and away on Raleigh. A slider got away from him, putting him down 2-1, but McMillon came back from that and forced Raleigh to fight off close and consistent pitches. All in all, it ended in a harmless flyout that ended the inning.

To recap, this is how McMillon managed a three-up, three-down inning in arguably his most impactful appearance yet.

I loved it. I did. McMillon did not need a third pitch or some crazy defensive plays to face the minimum batters Sunday. Each out felt like a battle, one where the Royals pitcher won for a change. This is a great sign for the Royals' pitching development and McMillon alike and one that Royals fans need to watch for the remainder of