Of all of the surprises for the Kansas City Royals so far in the 2020 season, the bullpen pitching lights out has been the biggest.
After seeing their bullpen crumble in the past few years, the Kansas City Royals relievers have looked surprisingly good a week into the 2020 season.
What makes this bullpen’s efforts even more impressive is that the starters typically don’t pitch past the fifth inning, so the Royals relievers are getting plenty of work each night. On Friday night, they pitched five scoreless innings and kept the Royals in a tight game, but the offense couldn’t get the job done.
Obviously Saturday night’s game wasn’t the best, but the six White Sox runs were scored off of just two relievers (Jake Newberry and Glenn Sparkman). The rest pitched clean innings and they had a lot of work ahead of them, as Ronald Bolanos went just 1.2 innings as an opener.
Here are all of the Kansas City Royals relievers we’ve seen so far this season:
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- Scott Barlow
- Foster Griffin
- Greg Holland
- Ian Kennedy
- Jorge Lopez
- Richard Lovelady
- Kevin McCarthy
- Jake Newberry
- Trevor Rosenthal
- Glenn Sparkman
- Gabe Speier
- Josh Staumont
- Kyle Zimmer
- Tyler Zuber
Out of this group, four pitchers have 0.00 ERAs. Those four are Barlow, Griffin, Holland, and Rosenthal. Staumont has a 2.25 ERA and Kennedy’s is at 4.15.
Seeing Holland and Rosenthal, two former closers, come into this bullpen and kick butt whenever they enter the game has been awesome to see. Holland obviously had the most success with the Royals earlier on in his career while Rosenthal saw his on the other side of the state with the Cardinals.
Both have been clutch whenever they’ve made appearances, with Holland pitching five scoreless innings so far and Rosenthal has four scoreless innings to his name. The Royals have been that team who pitchers have been able to jumpstart their careers with and maybe this is another instance of that.
Barlow had a rough start to the season, but he’s really locked it in and has pitched so much better. Newberry wasn’t on the Opening Day roster, but he’s looked good in limited opportunities so far.
Griffin is the biggest bummer because he looked really good in relief last week on his 25th birthday, which was also his MLB debut. After 1.2 innings of clean ball, he was pulled due to what looked like an injury and he’ll be sidelined with that injury for the unforeseeable future.
Zuber is another pitcher who made his Major League debut this year and while he doesn’t have a 0.00 ERA, he is looking good as a rookie, throwing five innings and surrendering three runs during that time. He has a 5.40 ERA, but it really is worse than it looks because he’s been pretty solid in all but one outing.
Zimmer hadn’t been used predominantly as a reliever, but he’s done well in both roles asked of him (reliever and opener). The former 2012 first round pick went three innings on Saturday in a blowout and all three innings were clean. It’s been incredible watching Zimmer pitch this season and he’s showing why the organization spend a first round pick on him.
Saturday’s final score looked as if the Royals relievers had a meltdown, but those six runs scored off the bullpen were combined between two pitchers. This bullpen is still looking quite good.
The Royals have asked a lot of their bullpen this year by not pushing their starters through past the fifth inning and the relievers have stepped up. Hopefully this continues to be the case because it’s been a pleasant surprise.