Royals manager Ned Yost says he still prefers a bullpen with defined roles, even as myriad injuries and a general cautiousness have resulted in a shuffling of roles for much of August.
Entering Wednesday, dominating setup man Wade Davis had earned two saves in three days while closer Greg Holland rested with what Yost termed a “cranky” arm — otherwise known as recurring bouts of stiffness and soreness. Before that, Kelvin Herrera and Ryan Madson covered for Davis while the reliever nursed a sore back.
Yost, though, says he expects to utilize more of the Royals’ traditional bullpen gambit — Herrera in the seventh, Davis in the eighth, Holland in the ninth — as the club pushes toward October.
“I imagine the further we get, you’ll see a lot more HDH,” Yost said.
That declaration comes as Holland works through some recent uncharacteristic struggles in July and August. Holland, who had a 3.86 ERA in July, was nicked for three runs in a loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 13. Yost said Holland needed more regular work, and he has bounced back with four straight scoreless appearances. But entering Wednesday, he’d pitched just once in the last seven days.
With the addition of Madson and the return of Luke Hochever, Yost has had more flexibility in the bullpen. But in a perfect world, he says, he would prefer to keep guys within their stated roles.
“Last year, that’s all we had in the back end, was those three guys,” Yost said. “This year, we’ve got guys that can handle that situation in the seventh and eighth and ninth inning.”
Gordon expected in September
Three days into Alex Gordon’s rehab assignment at Class AAA Omaha, Yost reiterated that Gordon’s return to Kansas City wouldn’t come until September, when teams are allowed to field expanded rosters.
Gordon was two for four with a walk while serving as the designated hitter on Tuesday night, the third day of his rehab stint as he returns from a severe groin strain suffered in early July. Gordon played his first innings in left field on Monday and he was scheduled to return to left field on Wednesday night. Yost said the reports from Omaha were largely positive, but Gordon will need another four to five days — at least — before returning to the majors.
“He’s not going to be ready before September,” Yost said.