The Kansas City Royals have not been a playoff contender since 1985, when the organization clinched their lone World Series title. However, the 2013 squad is trying to change all of that. One reason the Royals should be optimistic about clinching the second Wild Card in the American League is because of their outstanding pitching.
The Royals do not have a flashy pitching staff. They are not going to wow fans with their amazing velocity and they are not going to strike out many batters. What Kansas City’s pitchers will do is keep runners off base, keep earned runs to a minimum and save games when they have a three-run lead or less.
Closer Greg Holland is third in the AL with 43 saves. Meanwhile, the Royals are actually second in the league in total saves (48). What is even more impressive is the pitching staff has combined for a 3.49 earned run average, which is first in the AL and fifth in Major League Baseball.
The starting rotation has been solid but it is the bullpen that has been fantastic. With that being said, the starters carry a lot of experience with them, which is something that will be utilized to the fullest down the stretch.
“There were times last year when we really didn’t know how to stop the bleeding,” Holland said, according to Royals.com. “I think a lot of that comes from experience and a lot of it comes from getting leadership from guys like Ervin [Santana], Wade [Davis] and [James] Shields — guys that have been there and done that before. We had some tough stretches last year but now, when we lose, the clubhouse is totally different than last year and I think that’s something we’ve had to develop, and that shows in our win column.”
As of right now Kansas City is two and a half games back of the Texas Rangers for the second Wild Card spot. With the Rangers scheduled at home for this weekend, expect the Royals’ pitching staff to step up and propel the team to their first postseason berth in 28 years.