(I'm including a few AAA-Omaha guys whom we have either pitched in KC this year, or whom I feel we could possibly see in KC by the end of the season)
1. Greg Holland-The man is a strikeout machine. Obviously #1.
2. Luke Hochevar-As terrible as his career as a starting pitcher was, he has been outstanding thus far as a reliever. His K/BB ratio is almost 4/1, and leads the Royals pitching staff with a 0.84 WHIP. Recent moves by Ned Yost would indicate that he has accepted Luke as his primary set-up man. Good on you Ned!
3. Tim Collins-After Luke it gets a little tougher. I chose Timmy as my #3 reliever based more on his performance in 2012 than thus far in 2013. Timmy is one of those relievers that can look pretty damn reliable for most of the season, but then has several shorter periods where he has no clue how to find the strike zone. If he can sustain a better control of the strike zone, he can be an excellent option to strike out some pretty dangerous hitters.
4. Will Smith-Since being converted to a reliever a month ago in Omaha, the Fresh Prince has only allowed
1 2 earned run in 17 18 and a third innings between Omaha and KC. He has struck out 1 per inning and has only walked 2 batters. Plus we saw him completely shut down the Twinkies for 5 innings after Wade Davis crapped his pants about a week ago. If he keeps this up, he could/should join Luke in sharing the setup role.
5. Aaron Crowe-Crowe has spent most of his 3 years in KC as either the primary 7th inning or primary 8th inning guy. He hasn't been terrible, but he hasn't been impressive either. If I were Ned, I would be cautious bringing Aaron Crowe into any close game situations, especially to face any dangerous hitters.
6. Kelvim Herrera-Last year, and heading into this season, Herrera seemed to be the perfect compliment to Holland for the 8th inning role. But then he couldn't keep the ball in the ball park. He still throws 99mph, so we know that he can be pretty nasty, but if he wants to be effective in the bigs, he will need to learn to keep that pitch out of the batters wheel house.
7. Louis Coleman-I still don't understand how Coleman isn't with the KC club. He has been pretty serviceable in his limited time in the big leagues, and has some pretty sick stats this year with Omaha.
8. Bruce Chen-He has been pretty good this year as a long reliever, and I feel like that's the perfect spot for him right now. $5 million well spent...
9. Donnie Joseph-He started cold this year in Omaha, but is heating up. His K/9 and K/BB rates are very attractive and I hope they translate well to the majors.
10. J.C. Gutierrez-His stats don't look that bad, but I feel they are deceiving. I'm never comfortable when he comes into a game, and if he never pitched in KC again, I would be quite okay with that.
All in all I think we still have a pretty good bullpen in KC. I see a lot of people in game threads who think otherwise, but I think these may be the same people who thought they would be the best in the league. If properly utilized, with Holland and Luke taking on the role of closing out most of the close leads, the bullpen can definitely be a major strength for the Royals moving forward.