The Royals, I think almost without question, have the deepest bullpen in the majors. They certainly have the best bullpen in the history of the franchise. I cannot tell you the best bullpens in history – or let’s say the best bullpens since starters stopped pitching complete games. I have to believe the current unit has to rank in the top twenty, maybe/probably higher. Jason Frasor, a good, solid, dependable long-time relief pitcher, is the SIXTH best pitcher in the pen.
That said, they don’t make bullpens deep enough to…
- Overcome a starting rotation with four of the five members sporting earned run averages over five. Say what you want about the ERA stat, but it has some validity on starting pitcher performance. FIP? Four of five over 4.22 and three of five over 4.70.
- Overcome your number two starter going a combined 4.2 innings in back to back starts, or not make it out of the sixth inning in five of seven starts.
- Deal with your supposed ace allowing four runs or more in three of six starts or, for that matter, pitching into the seventh inning just twice in those six starts.
- You simply cannot handle the above if your number five starter pitches like a number five starter. Jeremy Guthrie has managed to go at least five innings in every start and posted a great bounce back outing his last time out, but he has still basically pitched like a back of the rotation guy. That’s fine and good, if the top of the rotation isn’t pitching like the back of the rotation as well.
It’s not a revelation that the rotation has been below average thus far in 2015. A great bullpen and a whole bunch of unexpected offense has masked it. Eventually, bats go cold or the can’t hit enough to make up for being buried early (as they have been three times in eight days). Bullpens, even the deepest of the deep, get tired and overused. Dayton Moore has designed a bullpen equipped to pitch a lot of high leverage innings, but even this one probably cannot handle four innings a night from here until October.
Chris Young has been a revelation, but it is worthy noting his ERA is a full run higher in the second half of the season opposed to the first. That and the fact that his 165 innings last season was 50 more than he pitched in any year since 2008. Sure, Jason Vargas might be back and he is a capable back of the rotation guy as well. BACK…OF…THE…ROTATION.
Unless and until Ventura and Duffy begin pitching as the Royals expected them to going into the year, your Royals rotation is Volquez, Young and three days of ‘boy, I sure hope he manages to make it out of the third inning tonight’.
Admittedly, this is all a rant based on a really bad game last night on the heels of a really awful Danny Duffy start in his previous turn. It is an overreaction…maybe. Yordano Ventura spent all of 2014 being the real deal and has had moments even in 2015 (good ones, I mean, not the overdramatic cramping, running your mouth moments). Two young pitchers having two kind of rough patches. Patience, my friends, patience.
And you thought it was hard being patient when the Royals were losing.