Royals' relief corps needs reinforcements

BY foxsports • November 20, 2014

The Kansas City Royals need to upgrade their bullpen this winter.

That notion seems strange after watching Ned Yost maneuver to within one swing of a World Series title, thanks in large part to the late-inning trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland.

But already, the Royals'€™ pitching staff is not what it was one month ago. Consider the following factors:

. . . Brandon Finnegan and Jason Frasor --€” who accounted for the most postseason appearances among Kansas City relievers not named Herrera, Davis, and Holland --€” are no longer part of the Royals'€™ bullpen (at least, for the moment). Finnegan is expected to move into a starting role, and Frasor is a free agent.

. . . Royals general manager Dayton Moore must build a bullpen capable of working more than the 464 innings it logged in 2014, fifth-fewest in the majors.

The reason: James Shields is almost certain to depart as a free agent and take his 227 innings with him. Shields'€™ replacement --€” whether Finnegan or someone else --€” is highly unlikely to match that workload, meaning the bullpen will have more innings to cover. 

. . . Including the postseason, both Herrera (85) and Holland (73 1/3) established new career highs for innings pitched. Re-signing Frasor (or adding a comparable reliever with late-inning experience) would help Yost ensure Herrera and Holland have reasonably fresh arms in October 2015 --€” if the Royals make it back to the playoffs.

That said, it won'€™t be easy for Moore to add bullpen help. The Royals already spend a high percentage of their small-market payroll on relief pitching, and they appear to be prioritizing upgrades at designated hitter and/or right field with what available dollars they have.

Barring an unexpected trade, Herrera, Davis and Holland will be back in the Royals'€™ bullpen next year. But they'€™ll need help if they are to continue their dominance.