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Royals at the Break- Part 2, Pitching

While the offense started slowly then improved somewhat with an uptick in singles, the team's pitching has remained fairly consistent. Consistently not good that is. Worse still, while veterans such as Brian Anderson and LimaTime have failed to help the team, supposed young prospects Zach Greinke, Runelvys Hernandez and J.P. Howell have all done more harm than good.

Unlike hitting, pitching's a more integrated process, intermingled almost impercetibly with park-effects and the quality of the team's defense. In the case of the Royals however, the total equation doesn't appear too mystifying: they're not really good at anything a pitcher is supposed to do, and the defense behind them is acknowledged to also be below average.

ERA- 5.39 (27th): Given the K's new status as a pitcher's park again, this is probably a bit better looking than it really is. Sure, the Royals are probably better than the Devil Rays (5.87), but being just a tick better than the Rockies is nothing to be proud of.

WHip & Batting Average Allowed- 1.53 (27th), .284 (26th): The Royals give up alot of baserunners, and balls-in-play have an excellent shot at becoming hits against this defense. According to Baseball Prospectus, the Royals employ the 28th best defense in baseball, which makes since, given that their defense stat is essentially BAA minus homers, with a few adjustments.

Last season the Reds fielded one of the worst defenses in the modern era, and theres always those Rockies to contend with. So again, 28th is nothing to brag about.

K/BB & K/9- 1.61 (26th) & 5.94 (24th): Last season, the Royals' pitching staff was one of the most toothless of the past twenty-five years, striking out only 5.62 batters per 9, good for 30th in baseball. This season, thanks to reduced innings from Gobble, May and Anderson, the Royals are a bit better at getting strikeouts, albiet with a few more walks. Given the quality of the Royals defense, strikeouts become more important, and basically, the only difference between the Royals run-prevention and the Yankees run-prevention is that the Yankees strike batters out, which allows them to (sorta) get by.

HR Allowed- 86 (18th): You thought it'd be worse? Actually, D.J., Runelvys and Greinke have all been decent regarding homers, and at times the bullpen hasn't been terrible. Sure, theres Lima, but there is only so much damage one man can do.

SV%- 58% (27th): I think the save statistic is one of the most over-rated and ill-applied ratings that we have in baseball. (Standard saber-head position I know.) Still, its hard to be a decent team when your blowing nearly half your 9th inning leads. Thankfully, Mac's converted 10 chances in a row, so this is getting a little better... or, its telling us that Bell's win-total is a tad inflated.

ERA Innings 1-6- 5.96 (29th): A fairly nifty feature on Yahoo's stats page... Our Royals starters haven't been helping matters much this season, ranking only a tad better than the Devil Rays (6.00) in ERA during the first six innings. But, I thought the young starters were the strength and hope of the franchise?

ERA Innings 7+- 4.15 (16th): Wow! Near-goodness in an area!! I think we can call this the Sisco-effect, although a host of relivers have had patches of decency this season. Strolling down memory lane, we've seen numerous games this season where the Royals fall behind 5-0 by the 3rd inning, only to eventually lose 7-6, as the pen keeps them in the game (more or less). Once again, its a fairly cheap, scrap-heap of a bullpen, thats essentially been the team's strongest feature. Other than manager-firings, there isn't a single facet of the game, offensively or defensively, that the Royals are as good as 16th in, but in late-game ERA, here we are. Nice, if somewhat random.