The Kansas City Royals haven’t been to the playoffs since 1985 and this year’s Royals team is looking to change that. Expectations are high in Kansas City this season and part of the reason for those high expectations are the back end of the bullpen.
That dominant bullpen was on display in Kansas City’s 7-3 victory over the San Diego Padres.
Leading 7-3 in the fifth, the Royals turned to the bullpen and brought in Aaron Crow, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera for the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, respectively. The trio combined to allow one hit and one walk over those three innings, while striking out five batters. Teams that make the playoffs generally have a solid bullpen and Kansas City has proven they have just that.
Crow was an All-Star in 2011 as a rookie, but struggled a bit last season, going 7-5 with a 3.38 ERA. He struggled with allowing home runs and walking batters last season, and will look to return to the form he showed in 2011.
Holland is the Royals’ closer and has turned into one of the best in baseball. He had a breakout year in 2013, going 2-1 with a 1.21 ERA and 47 saves, posting a SO/9 innings rate of 13.8 and a SO/BB ratio of 5.72. Those numbers earned him an All-Star game invitation and helped him finish ninth in the AL Cy Young voting and 15th in the AL MVP voting.
Herrera is a hard-throwing setup man for Holland. He struggled a bit with home runs and walks, just like Crow, but finished with a 3.86 ERA and a SO/9 innings rate of 11.4 last season.
They are joined in the bullpen by Luke Hochevar, Tim Collins and Wade Davis. Together they form one of the best bullpens in baseball. If the Royals are going to break their postseason streak this season, expect the bullpen to play a large part in it.