If you haven't taken the time to listen to any of the podcast episodes I've posted, at the very least, check out Friday's (4/19) episode of Baseball Tonight with Buster Olney.
Olney's first guest on the show was none other than Royals GM Dayton Moore, not to be confused with Daynot Moore. Olney touches on the obvious (an overview of the negotiations between Moore and Rays GM Andrew Friedman, the decision to give up Wil Myers, what Moore sees in Eric Hosmer, and so on). Moore answers the only way he knows how — like a politician.
However, it was Olney who had me shaking my head in disbelief during the interview. At a certain point, Olney asks Moore about his "best kept secrets in baseball." Just who are these secrets Olney was referring to? Alex Gordon and Billy Butler? No. Kyle Zimmer and Yordano Ventura? Nope. Kauffman Stadium and Arthur Bryant's? Nah. It was obviously the Royals' bullpen.
The same bullpen anchored by Greg Holland and his 9.00 ERA, 3.56 FIP and 4.26 xFIP to go with a .294 BAA and 2.75 WHIP. The same bullpen that in a single week submarined the entire team thanks in part to Kelvin Herrera's four home runs allowed. Just days after seemingly surpassing Holland for the closer role, Herrera boasts a 7.36 ERA and 8.10 FIP. And the same bullpen that includes J.C. Gutierrez.
True, Bruce Chen, Aaron Crow, Tim Collins and amazingly Luke Hochevar have been admirable in middle relief. But to a man, almost every Royals reliever has wilted in high-leverage situations, including Collins, who sparked the fateful bottom of the eighth against the Red Sox on Sunday.
Granted this interview was likely done Friday or possibly Thursday. So Saturday's implosion had yet to take place. However, that doesn't exclude Holland's struggles. That doesn't exclude Herrera's meltdown Tuesday against the Braves. If anything, the Royals' bullpen has been the most glaring weakness this season.
The offense has been middling at best and that was a danger entering the season. Ned Yost has made Ned Yost-like decisions and there was no reason not to expect that to happen. But the bullpen was supposed to be as sure of a bet as the Royals could hope for. At this point, I'm thinking it's time for Aaron Crow to start fulfilling his first round expectations as the club's stopper.
If there has been any kind of secret kept by the Royals thus far, it's that four of their five starters have ERAs below 3.50. Both Ervin Santana's FIP (4.51) and xFIP (3.75) suggest his 2.45 ERA won't last. Same for Wade Davis (2.25/3.56/3.25) and Jeremy Guthrie (3.20/5.24/3.44). However, Shield's FIP (2.82) and xFIP (2.99) imply he's done more to earn his keep than his 3.43 ERA would let on. And perhaps Luis Mendoza (6.17/3.06/4.14) can recover and hang onto his spot in the rotation.
While I think the Royals' season could very well be on the verge of slipping back down into the doldrums of the AL Central, I think the starting rotation does deserve some recognition for keeping the club in games to this point. It's great that the Worldwide Leader chose to give the Royals some exposure on its main baseball podcast, but I can't believe someone like Buster Olney would miss the mark so badly. For a moment, it made me forget Moore was the same person who handed Myers to the Rays but still won't pull the trigger on plucking Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins. This season is the beginning of their "window" to win, after all.
Fire Dayton Moore