After an epic win like the one on Tuesday night, one would have hoped that the Royals would build on that momentum and close out the last place Indians in a three-game sweep. Then the bullpen happened.
On both this afternoon and last night, the Royals top two starters, Gil Meche and Zack Greinke, left with the lead.
On both occasions, the bullpen—led by the sterling performances of Jamey Wright, Horacio Ramirez, Ron Mahay, Sidney Ponson, Robinson Tejeda, and Juan Cruz (and in case you weren't paying attention, that's nearly the whole bullpen).
One name shockingly left off that list is Kyle Farnsworth, who will officially be removed from the Shit List as soon as this post is completed.
While Farnsworth is not currently imploding every time he steps on the mound, it seems like everyone else is. Most disturbing is Jamey Wright. The reason this is most disturbing is that he had been one of Hillman and McClure's go-to men.
If one were to simply glance at Wright's stats on the season, his 2.42 ERA with a K:BB ratio of 15:6 and a WHIP of 1.26 would lead the average person to think he's been pretty effective.
Unfortunately, the ratios are a bit of a mirage. In his four holds, he has allowed two earned runs twice. Speaking of runs allowed, he has also allowed seven unearned runs to his six earned runs.
Granted, some of this can be attributed to his ground ball tendencies, but two of those unearned runs came during the complete meltdown in Anaheim which featured him airmailing a throw to center field that should have resulted in an inning ending double play.
In his next appearance out of the pen, the Royals were down one run when Jamey Wright came in with one out and Adam Kennedy standing on first base.
He proceeded to give Kennedy second on a wild pitch, walk Bobby Crosby, have Orlando Cabrera reach on a Mark Teahen error to load the bases, plunk Kurt Suzuki with the bases loaded, induce a Jason Giambi foul out, allow an infield single plating the runner at third, and proffer a pitch to Jack Cust which was promptly crushed for a three-run double.
In case you missed it, he recorded one out in that sequence and allowed an inherited runner to score on a hit by pitch. Today, Wright came in to face Jhonny Peralta with a runner on and immediately gave up another RBI double, this time in a tie game. To say his appearances of late have been rocky would be a gross understatement.
This is not to say that there are not others without fault. Ron Mahay came in today with two inherited base runners from one of the messier Juan Cruz appearances of the season (in one-third of an inning, Cruz's ERA jumped from 1.45 on the season to 3.32) and gave up a double to Victor Martinez.
Yes, V-Mart is hitting somewhere around .700 this season, but the inability to clean up a mess left by another pitcher has been a problem on more than one occasion for Mahay as well.
Mahay and Wright are pieces of the bullpen puzzle that are probably vital to the Royals success this season.
I could start focusing on guys like Horacio Ramirez and Sidney Ponson, who took the blown save/loss designation these last two games but were both undermined by fellow bullpen mates and the defense behind them, but they are essentially going to be needed for spot starts and mop up duty.
The nature of the Royals bullpen is such that the effectiveness of Mahay and Wright would seem integral to the Royals' ability to hold leads late.
Their sketchy outings of late do raise the question is it time for Kyle Farnsworth to be brought out of the doghouse. Yes, in high leverage situations this season, he has been a catastrophe.
No, I am not a masochist by nature (despite my Royals and Chiefs fandom). The fact of the matter is Kyle Farnsworth has now gone 11 straight appearances without allowing a run. Over that stretch of time, he has allowed seven hits and two walks while striking out 11 in 12 innings.
Obviously, such a proposition is a scary one, but as a different piece of the pen crumbles around him, the Professor stands tall. It is hard to ignore what he has done over his last 11 times out there.
Moreover, is there anything that we Royals fans are afraid of Farnsworth doing that isn't already being taken care of by the "more reliable" arms in the bullpen?
As much as it pains me to say this, I think it is time to test the waters with Kyle Farnsworth again. If you want to read that as being an act of desperation, dropping six of nine against last place teams has reduced me to that.
With the Tigers suddenly looking like the team they were supposed to be last season when they were going to dominate all of baseball, the Royals cannot mess around any longer.
At least, Jake Peavy nixed the offer that would have sent him to the White Sox. That was scary for me as a Royals fan and a Jake Peavy fantasy owner.
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