CHICAGO — Barring a shelling today, the Royals will conclude the season with the American League’s best earned-run average and set a franchise record for best bullpen ERA.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
The Royals carry a 3.46 staff ERA into today’s game against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. Oakland owns the next-best AL mark at 3.58.
It would be the Royals’ first staff ERA title since compiling a 3.82 mark in 1986. Tampa Bay topped the AL in 2012 at 3.19. Atlanta enters today’s games as the major-league leader at 3.17.
The Royals’ bullpen ERA is 2.57, which trails only Atlanta (2.46) among all teams. Texas ranked second among AL teams at 2.92.
The previous best bullpen ERA in Royals’ history was 2.80 in the strike-shortened 1981 season. The club’s best previous mark in a full season was 2.92 in 1976.
The Royals’ current bullpen mark would, if maintained, be the best in the American League since Oakland’s relief corps posted a 2.35 ERA in 1990.
Look for manager Ned Yost to send out the ultimate Sunday lineup...i.e., one loaded with reserves…for the season finale behind veteran lefty Bruce Chen.
Early plans called for an outfield without Alex Gordon, and a middle-infield combination of Johnny Giavotella at second base and Pedro Ciriaco at shortstop. Brett Hayes is the tentative starting catcher.
“I haven’t made up my mind between (Irving) Falu and Moose (Mike Moustakas) at third,” Yost said.
Yost also hinted at a possible surprise choice at first base.
A wild guess? Catcher Salvy Perez spent extended time the last few days taking ground balls at first base during batting practice.
Coaches on hold
The pending negotiations on a new contract for Yost effectively puts the entire coaching staff on hold.
“We’re still in the evaluation process, like we always do every year” at the end of the season, Yost acknowledged.
The Royals face a decision regarding the status of bench coach Chino Cadahia, who was granted a leave of absence in early September to deal with a personal family matter.
Minor-league managers Brian Poldberg (Class AA Northwest Arkansas) and Mike Jirschele (Class AAA Omaha) filled Cadahia’s role on an interim basis over the last few weeks.
Yost and general manager Dayton Moore previously expressed satisfaction with the staff’s overall performance, and there is nothing to suggest changes are coming … just nothing official that there won’t be.
Former Royals pitcher Jim York saw an item in Saturday’s paper that his club record of 103 strikeouts by a reliever is in jeopardy from Greg Holland, who entered Saturday at 101 with two games remaining.
York took time to send along an email:
“In town from California visiting friends for the weekend — read your article on Greg Holland getting close to breaking my 42-year-old record. I wish him luck.”
York, now 66, registered 103 strikeouts over 93⅓ innings in 1971, which was his first full big-league season. Holland has 101 strikeouts in 66 innings.
The Royals traded York to Houston on Dec. 2, 1971. He spent four years with the Astros before completing a seven-year career in 1976 with the Yankees.
Class AA Northwest Arkansas right-hander Kyle Zimmer placed No. 17 and was one of four Royals’ prospects cited by John Sickels of MinorLeagueBall.com in end-of-the-season Top 75 rankings.
Sickels wrote Zimmer could “rank as high as eighth, pending full analysis and research plus health reports” in his upcoming 2014 Baseball Prospect Book.
Right-hander Yordano Ventura, who started Saturday against the White Sox, ranked No. 25, while right-hander Miguel Almonte was No. 55, and shortstop Raul Adalberto Mondesi was No. 62.
Sickels also cited infielder Hunter Dozier among his honorable mentions.
It was 36 years ago Sunday — Sept. 29, 1977 — that the Royals posted a 6-3 victory over California at then-Royals Stadium behind a strong performance by veteran Larry Gura and a homer from rookie Clint Hurdle.
It was the Royals’ 100th victory of the season — the only time in franchise history that they reached triple figures. They finished the season at 102-60.