The Kansas City Royals‘ bullpen was one of the few truly bright spots of 2012. Despite injuries and seemingly endless personnel changes through the first part of the season they did a consistently good job trying to tidy up the messes so often left for them by the starting pitchers. The bullpen as a whole set an American League record for strikeouts and Tim Collins in particular set the Royals record for strikeout by a left-handed reliever (which, admittedly, is a record with quite a few qualifiers on the front end). Of course they were helped in setting records y having to work a lot due to the short outings by a lot of the starters, but it is still no easy feat to remain so consistently good all season.
So the question is whether they will be able to keep it up in 2013. The staff should be mostly the same and after the winter trades the Royals hope that the starting pitching does enough to keep the bullpen from being so overworked. All of that is set up rather well, but at the same time one does have to worry about whether such a young group can replicate such good form.
Perhaps the biggest concern involves the loss of Joakim Soria he did not feature last year, of course, and may not even be as good next year as he comes off Tommy John surgery. But he is a proven asset and the Royals will now rely on Greg Holland to continue to the good form he showed at the end of last year for a full season. There is also the matter of Collins, who will set up for Holland. Collins was good last year overall and excellent outside Kauffman Stadium. But his ERA at home was over six, especially startling when one considers what a good ballpark for pitchers it is. If one or both of Holland and Collins slip up it could leave the Royals in a somewhat parlous position.
The Royals can justifiably hope for good things from their bullpen next year after the success they showed in 2012. But of all the areas that might cause problems, it might actually be the most likely.