The addition of Royals relief pitchers Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera to the American League All-Star squad wasn’t just a reward for their excellence.
It’s part of a winning formula for the Royals that manager Ned Yost wants to bring to the All-Star Game as the American League skipper.
Davis and Herrera are two-thirds of the back end of a bullpen that helped the Royals reach game seven of last year’s World Series.
In composing his All-Star pitching staff, along with the vote of the players, Yost put an emphasis on the bullpen.
Five other relief pitchers, including AL saves leader Glen Perkins of the Twins and the Yankees’ Dellin Betances, join Davis and Herrera on the staff.
“It’s kind of like the blueprint we have here,” Yost said. “It was successful for us last year. If we can get through five innings with those starters, then you have power arms out of the back of the pen. Then you can make it a six-inning game.”
Yost suggested the strategy for the 86th All-Star Game on July 14 in Cincinnati, could be to give starting pitchers such as the Rays’ Chris Archer and Athletics’ Sonny Gray, an inning each.
“Use some of those strong relievers to get starters out of issues, and we have some fire coming out of the back end of that bullpen,” Yost said.
Davis and Herrera, each making their first All-Star roster, were announced Monday along with other pitchers and reserves.
Yet to be determined is the final player for the AL and National League teams. Those are determined by a final vote on MLB.com.
Royals’ third baseman Mike Moustakas is one of five candidates for the final AL spot.
The starters, including four Royals, were announced Sunday. The six players on the roster are the most for the Royals, surpassing the five players in the 1982 All-Star Game.
Davis’ selection was expected. His microscopic 0.25 ERA is the result of one earned run in 36 innings. His primary duty is the eighth inning as the final bridge to closer Greg Holland, but Davis has been pressed into closer duty this season when Holland battled a pectoral injury.
Davis has been perfect in that role, recording saves in all nine attempts. Opponents are batting .138 against him. He’s recorded 40 strikeouts and hasn’t allowed a home run in a club-record 118 consecutive innings, a streak that dates to 2013.
“Wade could be closing for just about any team, let alone being a setup guy,” Yost said.
Davis was selected by the players. Herrera was Yost’s choice.
Herrera took over the seventh-inning setup role last season and became one of the game’s top relievers. He’s carried that success into this season with a 2.20 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings.
“For me, Kelvin Herrera is one of the premier setup guys,” Yost said. “We just happen to throw him in the seventh inning.”
Yost said he matched Herrera with other top AL setup specialists, and reached a decision based on a career achievement.
“The one thing he had that a lot of others didn’t was he pitched in game seven of the World Series last year,” Yost said. “That was kind of a deciding factor for me.”
Yost said he agonized over several selections. Perhaps the most difficult was omitting Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, who missed the 2014 season because of a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. Rodriguez has come back strong, with 16 home runs and 47 RBIs for a Yankees team that leads the AL East.
“We wanted to find a way to get Alex Rodriguez on there but we couldn’t,” Yost said.
Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer also received consideration, but he lost out as reserve to the Yankees’ Mark Teixeira.
“It’s important to try to get it right for everybody involved,” Yost said.
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