Royals Baseball

Kansas City Royals pitcher Conner Greene throws during spring training baseball practice Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in Surprise, Ariz. 

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- For some Royals fans it may seem like ancient history since the names Kelvin Herra, Ryan Madson and Greg Holland were the anchors in the Kansas City bullpen.

For others, it might be considered prehistoric. But, despite it’s only been a handful of years since those names owned the cages past the outfield, the Royals bullpen isn’t even a shell of itself.

Monday night against the Chicago White Sox, a crowd of 12,553 got to witness that fact. After Billy Hamilton came across to score in the seventh inning, the Royals found themselves with a one-run lead. One run would once again be one run too short.

In the eighth inning, Brad Boxberger would come on to the pitch. 

It took two batters for the Royals to bullpen to look like USDA Grade D beef. Boxberger immediately was struck for a double by shortstop Tim Anderson and then became the losing pitcher after Wellington Castillo deposited a baseball awko-taco to right. 

And just like that, the Royals have lost seven games after leading in the sixth inning or later.

It’s almost like Bob Sutton found a job as pitching coach.

"I'm unbelievably frustrated," Boxberger said.

Royals fans are thinking the same thing. But don’t have an aneurysm yet, blue barbeque eaters. There could be a light at the end of the tunnel.

If you travel south through the Ozarks from Kauffman Stadium you’ll end up in a city called Springdale, Arkansas, home of the Royals Double-A team.

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are off to a shaky start this season. They swept the Springfield Cardinals in their opening series of the season but then immediately went on an eight-game losing streak.

That may sound vaguely familiar.

But, the main reason Naturals are having problems is more connected to their batters.

Breakdown the early numbers for the Naturals, and you’ll see the pitching staff has somethings to hang their hat on.

In the Texas League, the team has the most innings pitched, the third most saves, allowed the third fewest hits, the third fewest homeruns and the third most strikeouts.

That’s a lot of thirds.

While bronze not be the goal, it’s still a great place to start, especially when three pitchers on the roster are in the top 10 ERA’s in the league; Andrew Sotillet, Jace Vines and Conner Greene. Two of those pitchers, Sotillet and Greene, are holding WHIP’s under 1.0.

Meanwhile, a trip up to Triple-A is also worth a look.

While youth is normally the norm in the minors, 29-year-old Tim Hill is nothing the scoff at. Currently he’s tied for second for saves in the Pacific Coast League. Hill also holds a 0.60 WHIP.

The Storm Chasers as a team are sitting in third for holds.

So, while the Royals might be struggling in Majors, the Royals of the future are developing and are finding a great place to start.

With a little bit of time a coaching, one of these prospect could put the bull back in the bullpen.

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