Judging the Royals

How a Louis Coleman walk in the eighth forced Greg Holland to pitch the ninth

Royals relief pitcher Louis Coleman
Royals relief pitcher Louis Coleman The Kansas City Star

In the eighth inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Texas Rangers, Louis Coleman came in to pitch with a four-run lead. The first batter was Elvis Andrus and Coleman walked him. Alex Rios then hit a ball back to the mound; Coleman caught it and threw to first base while Andrus advanced to second.

Next Coleman struck out Adrian Beltre, but then, with Ryan Rua at the plate, Louis threw a wild pitch; Andrus advanced to third. Rua then singled on a 2-2 slider, Andrus scored and that brought Wade Davis out of the bullpen.

Here’s the rule of thumb: if the lead is three runs or less you might expect to see Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland in the later innings—if they’re available.

If the lead is greater than three runs or the Royals are behind in the later innings, you might see someone else. But nothing is written in stone; Ned Yost has on occasion used those three guys when tied or behind.

As the Royals batted in the bottom of the eighth inning both Greg Holland and Brandon Finnegan warmed up in the left field bullpen. The score was 4-1—remember the 3-run rule—and had Kansas City scored a run Finnegan would have gotten the ball, not Holland. But KC didn’t score so Holland came in to get the save.

Royals fans have seen the same scenario several times recently; Ned Yost tries to avoid using Herrera, Davis or Holland, a middle reliever can’t hold a lead and Ned is forced to use his best relievers when they probably should have had a night off. Keep an eye on those middle relievers and whether they allow the guys at the back end of the pen to get the rest they need going down the stretch.

Should Mike Moustakas get a 3-0 green light?

In that same game Mike Moustakas got a 3-0 green light, swung at a sinker close to the heart of the zone, but popped up to short.

So what’s the thinking there?

At that point the game was scoreless in the third inning and the Royals hadn’t had a hit. The offense has not been scoring much—one of the reasons Herrera, Davis and Holland are in so many games—so giving a hitter a 3-0 green light might be a chance to do some damage; get an extra-base hit or hit one out of the park.

Moose has got 15 homers—so it’s possible he could drive one—and he’s was only hitting .207 at the time. That can actually work in a hitter’s favor; the pitcher is probably going to be aggressive in the zone; why risk walking a guy who makes outs almost 80% of the time? Moustakas was going to get a pitch to hit.

You’ll see 3-0 green lights given to power hitters, contact hitters with runners in scoring position and, once in a while, to hitters that are scuffling. A 3-0 fastball down the middle might be just what the hitter needs to get going.

But 3-0 green lights do not mean the hitter has to swing; he should be very selective, make sure it’s a pitch he can drive and if he chooses to swing, do some damage.

Lee Judge is now on Twitter

I’ve resisted for quite a while, but I’ve started experimenting with tweeting during ballgames. I haven’t wanted to do this because I felt like I needed to concentrate on the ballgame, but times change and so do baseball writers. I first tried it last Sunday night and, for the most part, thought I did a lousy job—but I’m learning.

Figuring out what to comment on in a timely manner isn’t as easy as it seems; you don’t need me to tell you Alex Gordon hit a double, but maybe I can be of use if I point out the pitcher then wants Billy Butler to pull a grounder toward left field and Billy needs to hit the ball to the right side so Alex can advance to third.

If I’m at the game I can let you know how the defense it set up and where the pitcher wants the ball put in play. I can also tell you who’s warming up in the bullpen and when they’re likely to come in the game.

I’m going to assume people following me are also watching the ballgame. I’ll try to point out things you can look for as the game progresses; the same stuff the ballplayers have pointed out to me. The game gets a lot more interesting if you know what to look for.

We’ll see how it goes.

If you want to follow along as I stumble through this learning process you can do so @leejudge8.