Kansas City Royals bullpen is throwing the season away

Kansas City Royals reliever Peter Moylan. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Kansas City Royals reliever Peter Moylan. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Royals were in prime position to make a strong run into the postseason, but bullpen struggles have now put them in a tough position.

Just a couple of weeks ago, we were talking about how the Kansas City Royals were in a strong spot for the AL postseason race. KC was within striking distance of the Indians in the AL Central, and held the second Wild Card spot. The Royals are now out of that Wild Card spot and well behind the Indians. The bullpen is a major reason why.

The Royals are currently 5-10 in the month of August. While the starting pitching is responsible for most of those losses, the bullpen has surrendered three horrific outings to cost KC wins. In each of those losses, two of them to the Cardinals, the Kansas City bullpen has surrendered an inning of four or more runs late in the game.

Those kinds of losses are unacceptable. Giving up one or two, even three, runs late in a game happens. It’s to be expected at times. Allowing four, eight, and six run comebacks is not. A bullpen is supposed to be able to hold opponents in check for a couple of innings. The Royals can’t do that right now.

The Culprits

The gut reaction to hearing bullpen failure might be to blame the late inning staff. However, Kelvin Herrera and Joakim Soria are not at fault here. Herrera has actually converted both of his save opportunities in August. The problem is that the Royals can’t even get to him.

Related Story: Kansas City Royals: Jake Junis Making A Case For Starting Role

The biggest culprit has actually been Mike Minor, who was a reliable reliever for most of this season. Minor has a pair of losses this month, and four since the All Star break. That’s absolutely killing the Royals right now.

To make matters worse, Kansas City’s big trade to acquire bullpen help from the Padres is not working out. Both Brandon Maurer and Ryan Buchter have been unreliable since joining the Royals roster. That’s a big problem for the team, as that was a move meant to solidify the unit.

What Now?

More from Kansas City Royals

Unless the Kansas City Royals bullpen can turn things around, you can close the book on their postseason chances. The Royals are in too tight of a race for the Wild Card to be dropping games they are leading late in. Every loss like that is a big one, and it gives other teams life.

Sure, the offense could stand to be more consistent. There is also no doubt that Jason Vargas and Danny Duffy are struggling right now. However, even factoring those things in, the Royals should have a game lead in the Wild Card and still be in the race for the AL Central. The bullpen cannot be surrendering these big innings late.

A change needs to come, and it needs to come soon. Either that’s Ned Yost changing around the work load, or it’s Dayton Moore making some roster moves. What can’t be done right now is just riding things out. The Royals have invested too much into this season for that.

The Kansas City Royals are not out of the postseason hunt yet. However, their chances are getting slimmer as we get ready for the home stretch of the season. If the Royals bullpen can’t get things turned around, then this will end up being one of the most disappointing seasons in recent history. This team is too good for this kind of a performance right now.