Matt Quatraro, Will Smith have tone deaf response to KC Royals bullpen implosions

Ed Zurga/GettyImages

The first two KC Royals games in 2024 have not inspired any confidence in the remaining 160 on the schedule. With so many new faces, fans rightfully expected new results. That hasn't been the case in any facet except for two brilliant starts from Cole Ragans and Seth Lugo. The lineup is anemic, only recording two runs in 18 innings. But, another unit not helping is certainly the bullpen.

The KC Royals need more urgency after two bullpen disasters to start 2024.

New additions Chris Stratton, John Schreiber, and Will Smith all have had rocky debuts in Kansas City. Stratton allowed two runs in the ninth inning on Opening Day, ending any comeback hopes. Schreiber and Smith both saw action on Saturday, with different concerns themselves. Smith earned the loss against the Twins. allowing four earned runs in the ninth and similarly ending any chance of Kansas City winning.

But, despite the situation and results, manager Matt Quatraro spoke highly of Smith's role in the 2024 bullpen. Kansas City Star reporter Jaylon Thompson ($) relayed the sophomore manager's thoughts about Smith.

“He’s going to be a stabilizer back there,” Quatraro said about Smith. “He had a rough first game, and that’s it.”

Hopefully, that is it, as Smith was Kansas City's best closing option heading into Opening Day. The veteran is well-traveled but started his MLB career with the Royals back in 2012. The 34-year-old had a rare second opportunity at a first impression but failed at leaving a good one with fans.

“I mean, you obviously want your first outing to go well,” Smith said. “This one didn’t, and it is what it is. We can say all the cliches: It’s a long season and all that stuff. As a competitor, you want your first one to go well for a new team. And it just didn’t today.”

Call me crazy, but a four-run inning is far away from well. Hopefully, the next outing will be better for Smith, but it will take several strong innings to overcome Saturday's disaster, both in earning fans' trust and statistically. One poor outing can skew a reliever's stats for the entire season, thanks to small workloads.

Schreiber came in on Saturday and pitched a scoreless seventh inning Saturday, but it was far from perfect. He hit two batters and allowed a Carlos Santana single before ending the inning with a strikeout and double play. The righty looked very erratic as well, but Quatraro voiced confidence in Schreiber after Saturday's game.

“That’s unusual for him to hit two left-handed batters in the same inning,” Quatraro said. “That’s really unusual. The ground ball is what you expect. I mean, Santana put a good swing on that changeup to get a base hit. But otherwise, he had the movement and his stuff looked good.”

Nick Anderson was the only new reliever who looked solid in his Royals debut. He pitched an efficient seventh inning on Opening Day, allowing one hit and no runs on 14 pitches. The 33-year-old Minnesota native came from the Atlanta Braves this offseason via trade and has a productive track record when healthy.

Kansas City needs to give fans a positive outlook soon. A win would go a long way, but the bullpen and lineup producing would be the biggest improvements in the young season.

More from Kings of Kauffman