The expectations for this Kansas City Royals baseball season are a big part of what makes their current struggles so frustrating. While fans in KC should have expected lesser greatness from their relief pitching than they enjoyed last year, fans had every the right in the world to expect the bullpen to still be reliable. Almost nobody has improved upon their great efforts from the season prior, but of all the relievers fighting to get right this year, one has made a decisively bigger turn for the worst than the rest.
For all the things going wrong with the Royals lately, Tim Collins deserves a hefty slice of the disappointment pie. Collins, after an excellent 2013 season, now continues to make every pitch exciting in the worst of ways. He allowed a double, a walk, threw a run-scoring wild pitch, punched a baby, spat in an elderly woman’s face and ultimately gave up two runs in relief last night. I may be exaggerating, but he had a rough game. The rest of his season has been no different.
What we’re seeing from Collins this year is nothing like the impressive firefighting potential he’s shown in previous seasons. No other Royals reliever with more than two innings pitched has an ERA as high as Collins’ 6.17, which is also his average for walks through nine innings, oddly enough. Out of the 96 American League relievers with more outs recorded than Collins this year, only eight have a higher ERA.
His outstanding 12.01 strikeouts per nine innings pitched in 2012 was reduced to 8.77 strikeouts through nine last year. This season, that number has so far shrunk down to 3.86. The bite on his curveball is inconsistent this year, and without that, Collins simply doesn’t have enough tools to be a productive MLB reliever.