Francisely Bueno probably should have made it out of last night’s eighth inning unscathed. He fumbled a bunt single by a fast guy (that what speed do) – hardly the first pitcher to have that happen. Then he got a groundball for a possible double play only to have his Gold Glove caliber shortstop make a little league decision to not get any outs at all.
Bueno might have deserved better. That does not mean Ned Yost’s decision to go to Bueno in the eighth was right.
Let’s ignore for a moment, Yost’s steadfast and defiant refusal to use Wade Davis when his team is trailing. There is another guy out there, Kelvin Herrera, who has not thrown since June 30th: that’s SEVEN DAYS OFF. No, let’s go with Francisely Bueno.
To be clear, Bueno has pitched quite well of late. Heck, he has thrown 5.2 innings of shutout baseball in his last two appearances. Both of those appearances having occurred SINCE the last time Herrera appeared in a major league baseball game. What am I missing here?
We all know that Ned is paranoid about overusing his bullpen. Sometimes seven relievers is simply not enough. I am pretty sure they would have eight pitchers in the pen now if the team was not absolutely convinced that Raul Ibanez was going to wake up one of these mornings and be five years younger.
Still, Herrera – on pace to pitch 70 innings this year and idle for a week – stood and watched as the Royals gave up two runs in the eighth inning. They were somewhat meaningless runs until Kansas City connected for two runs themselves in the following half inning.
It’s hardly all on Bueno, but it should have been Herrera simply because this is was a close game, he was rested and Kelvin is a better pitcher. If not him, then Wade Davis.
Down one run with your offense getting hits (no runs, but hits – law of average stuff has to start coming into play) and Escobar then the top of the order coming up in the ninth, one almost has to stop being a stubborn by the book manager and go with your dominant eighth inning guy.
Let’s also keep in mind that other than the last week of the season, this is the one week when you can really push your guys – especially your best guys. You have four days off coming up, so if Davis, Herrera and Holland pitch in five times this week, they’ll have time to recover over the All-Star Break. One could even get real crazy and use Greg Holland for more than inning this week. Theoretically, the world would not implode.
Of course, if Tim Collins and Louis Coleman had not forgotten how to get people out or Luke Hochevar had not gone under the knife, this bullpen might be Ned-proof. Instead, however, the vaunted depth is really not there. Assuming Herrera might have a tweak or something that makes the team hesitant to use him right now and knowing that Wade Davis simply cannot be used (because – NED), then Bueno was far more palatable than Bruce Chen or Scott Downs or any of the six other pitchers who have appeared for the team this season.
The bullpen depth is not there and the imagination of the man who handles it is lacking.