Royal Pitchers Under Ned Yost: Starters Bad, Relievers Good

Heading into this series, I was under the impression that the pitching had improved under Yost, and that that was why the Royals were winning. However, that is, at best, only partially true. Since Yost took over, the Royals are 6th in the AL in runs scored (a tick above league average with the team's number 3&4 hitters both very hot, lets all go absolutely insane over this!) and tied for 7th in runs allowed. Basically, that's the definition of a mediocre, .500 baseball team.

So, here are the ERAs for the guys under Yost. I feel a little bad just giving raw ERAs like this, but until Fangraphs gets a game log function as awesome as B-Refs, this is going to have to do. ERA sucks as a predictive tool going forward, but it's not 100% awful as a quick and dirty snapshot of what happened. It doesn't tell us if a pitcher really "deserved" to allow those runs, but, especially for starters, it's a passable tool to look at general trends. There are more numbers to look at, but I don't have time to get all of them just right now.

Starters under Yost:

ERA IP
Greinke 4.48 66
Bannister 5.63 56
Davies 5.98 49
Hochevar 4.35 41
Chen 3.32 43
Lerew 5.24 22

 

So, I fully expect all the Yostheads who will rave about what he's gotten out of Chen and the bullpen guys to also be worried that he "can't reach Greinke and the starters." Right? I mean, if we're going to assume causation with one set of meaningless data, we might as well do so with another. Should we consider trading Greinke since Yost is so obviously a part of the team's future????? The numbers don't lie, SOMETHING IS GOING ON.

And now, the Relievers under Yost:

 

ERA IP
Texeira 1.93 14
Marte 3.71 17
Wood 4.71 21
Hughes 3.46 13
Farnsworth 1.29 21
Tejeda 0.96 18.2
Soria 1.37 19.2

 

Obviously, the bullpen has been better. Is that Yost? Or just something that happened? There's been considerable talk that Yost has stabilized the bullpen with more defined roles, and that the players have responded to this. Supposedly, a big example of this is Farnsworth, who is either more stabilized now or being given more important innings. Here's his game log under Yost: I defy you to find a clear pattern. You can pick any aspect of the situation: inning, team winning or losing, number of innings, ANYTHING.

To me, the big change comes down to this: Tejeda has been good rather than terrible (which had happened before, which was why he had us all excited heading into this season) and Farnsworth has been good rather than terrible. Farnsworth was good for long stretches of last season as well. Although I've introduced these numbers of my own volition, looking at reliever ERAs over small samples is pretty risky given how there's so much weirdness in how their runs can be credited. The fact is, the bullpen has pitched well, as a group, under Yost. I just return to the central question of WHY. Other than Texeira, these aren't even new guys: they're random Royals we've had floating around for years in most cases. We've heard a lot that Yost is being more stable in his roles, but I'm not sure I believe that. We're now doing the same thing with Hillman (who I didnt like) that we did with Baird, creating an alternative history that is totally exaggerated. Hillman loved him some stable bullpen roles, guys. That's why we had nearly a year of Jamey Wright as the 8th inning guy. Hillman was a bad manager, but it wasn't crazy town with him running the bullpen: it was a two year fight just to get him to use Soria in the 9th.

What do you see?

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