Since winning the World Series in 2015, the Kansas City Royals have slowly become one of MLB’s worst teams once again.
This reflects a franchise long trend of consistently being low in the standings, as the team has never been able to establish themselves as steady contenders.
Since 1994, the team has a .441 winning percentage, the lowest in the MLB.
Much of this is due to their small market.
The organization isn’t able to go out and spend much money on the free agent market.
Because of this, they need to rely heavily on home grown talent before they eventually hit free agency.
This season will be no different.
The team likely won’t be deep in the cellar next to the Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles, but they will be sitting just above.
Their core offensive players are aging, with the exception of Adalberto Mondesi.
However, they did make a move to add free agent 1B Carlos Santana to the team.
Please enjoy a preview of the power that is Slamtana. 💥 pic.twitter.com/xYImdamEif
— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) December 11, 2020
They do have some talent in their farm system, but much of that is still a few years away from making a difference.
For now, all the Royals can focus on making their team incrementally better.
Royals 2020 Bullpen
Last season, the team’s bullpen was one of their few bright spots.
The midseason addition of Trevor Rosenthal proved to be successful, while Greg Holland had another standout year.
However, the team dealt Rosenthal to the Padres at the trade deadline this season and Holland is a free agent.
Now, they will need to look elsewhere for their 2021 closer.
Here are three options for the team to consider:
1. Josh Staumont
Though it was a relatively small sample size last season, reliever Josh Staumont performed well.
He posted a 2.45 ERA in 25.2 innings, being a reliable option for the team out of the bullpen.
This could make him a good candidate to step in and take over the closing role.
He features a sizzling 100-plus mph fastball with a devastating curve, creating a tough combo for hitters.
Did you know @Royals hurler Josh Staumont threw the four fastest strikeout pitches in 2020? How about this 102 mph heat? 🔥
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) December 14, 2020
This type of two-pitch mix makes him great closer material.
2. Scott Barlow
Through the month of August last season, Barlow posted a 1.37 ERA.
Reminder that Scott Barlow has been the Royals best reliever and I will not debate this right now thank you pic.twitter.com/MWNaHlRLhY
— Shaun Newkirk (@Shauncore) August 23, 2020
A bad September plummeted this, but he proved that he has the potential of being a shutdown reliever.
He pairs his hard fastball with a power slider that can make him an effective pitcher.
When his command is on, he can even borderline on dominant.
If he is able to improve his command this offseason, he could come into the 2021 season being the Royals new closer.
3. Jesse Hahn
Hahn joined the Royals in 2018 in the Brandon Moss trade with Oakland.
After a forgettable 2019, Hahn became an integral member of the team’s bullpen in 2020.
In 17.1 innings, Hahn posted a minuscule 0.52 ERA and 0.692 WHIP.
Congratulations to Jesse Hahn, who quietly set an all-time major league record this season.
Hahn allowed four hits in 56 at-bats in 2020. His .071 batting average allowed is the lowest in major league history for a pitcher who faced at least 40 batters.
— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) September 28, 2020
Throughout his career, the righty has battled injuries that kept him off the field.
However, 2020 proved what he could be when healthy.
With a mid-90s fastball and a knee-buckling breaking ball, he has the stuff to become a closer.
Because of his dominance last season, it wouldn’t be surprising for him to enter Spring Training with a leg up on the competition.
Whatever way the Royals go, it likely won’t make a huge difference for the team.
There are a lot of areas they need to improve in to actually put together a competitive 2021 season.
However, a stout bullpen could be the first step in that.
Look for them to build from within with some of the pieces that stood out for the team last season.