How Royals Bullpen Is Making Strides in 2020

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The 2020 MLB season is just a week in and the Kansas City Royals have seen a lot of changes inside the bullpen. The bullpen in 2019 was ranked in the bottom five in almost every category and couldn’t keep the Royals in games. However, in 2020, the bullpen has been a major improvement through the first eight games. Manager Mike Matheny has done a great job managing the pen and putting guys into match-ups that make sense.

Veteran Leadership

In the K.C. pen, they have a hand full of veteran arms that have years of Major League service. For example, Trevor Rosenthal was a former MLB All Star with the St. Louis Cardinals but now is trying to make it back with a team after a rough 2019. In three appearances in 2020, he has three strikeouts and has only allowed two hits and no runs.

Another veteran arm is Ian Kennedy, who has seen time as the closer but also has come in during crucial situations. Coming into the season, most thought he was a lock for the closer role. However, that does not seem likely now.

Also, Greg Holland returned to the Royals after playing on the Rockies, Cardinals, Nationals, and Diamondbacks. Holland has struggled since he left K.C. in 2015, but in 2020 he has shown he still has it. In four games, Holland has given up no runs and two hits. He has five strikeouts to add to that as well.

Young Arms

Tyler Zuber pitching.

This has been the most surprising part to the 2020 season, seeing the young arms blossom in the first couple games. For example, Tyler Zuber jumped off the page to the coaching staff early in spring training and in summer camp. He did not miss the opportunity and made the big league club. Last Friday, Zuber made is MLB debut and did not seem nervous at all. Despite this, he went out their and threw a quick 1-2-3 inning vs the Cleveland Indians to start his career. He has given up a few long balls early in the season so don’t let the 6.75 ERA fool you. Zuber has pitched four innings and has only given up two hits.

Another arm that has stood out is Josh Staumont. Staumont has pitched in three games and has had a total of five strikeouts so far. He has been blowing hitters away to his fastball that has been reaching upper 90’s so far.


There are several other arms that have impressed as well throughout the early 2020 season. Gabe Speier has done an excellent job taking Tim Hill’s job as the lefty specialist. Kevin McCarthy coming in and keeping guys left on base. The Royals bullpen had lots of question marks during spring training and summer camp and within the first week, it seems the bullpen is way improved from 2019. The Royals have lost three one-run games at the moment. However, that is not the bullpens fault. They have kept them in ball games but the the hitting just hasn’t clicked.

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