With the season winding down and the KC Royals having a double-digit American League Central lead for months, manager Ned Yost has mixed things up over the last two weeks.
The Royals moved Jeremy Guthrie (who is starting tonight) back into the starting rotation and moved struggling lefty Danny Duffy into the bullpen. The Royals shouldn’t need a fifth starter in the playoffs and want to see what Duffy can do coming out of the bullpen. He could be an important part of the Royals postseason roster, much like the role rookie Brandon Finnegan played in 2014.
Guthrie’s career with the Royals is winding down and most likely he will not be on the playoff roster. If he pitches well over the last two weeks, it could be a nice sendoff for the veteran right-hander.
That means that Kris Medlen will be the number 4 starter in the upcoming postseason.
Today, the big decision came out.
All-Star Greg Holland is no longer the Royals closer. For the rest of the season and the postseason, setup man Wade Davis will close out games.
With his fastball velocity down and really not pitching well, the decision really isn’t a shocker. Holland has allowed 24 hits and 11 earned runs, walked 11, and struck out 18 in 18 innings since the All-Star break.
What is shocking is the reasoning: Holland has been dealing with elbow stiffness since the All-Star break and it will not subside by season’s end. So why has he continued to pitch?
Will Holland even be included on the postseason roster? We will see. It may depend on how he pitches over the final two weeks.
Holland isn’t the only struggling Royals reliever, as fireballer Kevin Herrera has also stunk of late. He has allowed 22 hits and walked 13 in 27.2 innings since the All-Star break. He has struck out 24 in that timespan.
Herrera however is expected to move into the setup role, with Duffy and Ryan Madson taking the seventh inning. Madson has struggled a bit as well (20 hits in 21.1 second half innings), though it may have more to do with the fact that Yost had abused Madson (who had not pitched in three years) in the first half.
Hopefully the Royals can get back on track in their final regular season homestand that starts tonight against Seattle. I would hate to see them limp into the postseason (7-12 in September) and get knocked out in the first round.