The Kansas City Royals, heading into the middle game of a three-game series against the host Cleveland Guardians on Tuesday, really could use their first complete game of the season, because their bullpen is struggling.
Kansas City has the worst bullpen ERA in the American League, and the second worst in the majors, 4.85.
The Royals are 3-10-2 in series so far in 2022. The only way to avoid another series defeat is to win two straight in Cleveland, which would be their first back-to-back road wins of the season.
The Royals will send Daniel Lynch (2-3, 3.92 ERA) to the mound to face the Guardians’ Cal Quantrill (1-3, 3.42) on Tuesday.
Andres Gimenez broke a 3-3 tie with a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning on Monday as Cleveland defeated Kansas City 7-3. The Royals had scored twice in the top of the eighth to tie the game. Even though they blew the lead, the Guardians remained undefeated (12-0) when leading after six innings.
Kansas City manager Mike Matheny is running out of ways to find the bright side of a tough loss.
“We got into a spot where we had to fight back,” he said postgame. “The guys did a great job of that late in the game against a good bullpen to give us a chance.
“Unfortunately, a one-out walk put us in a little bit of a bind, and then a pitch that wasn’t where we didn’t want it to be ended up being the (three-run) home run.”
Lynch may not be the guy to throw nine innings, as he has not been able to pitch more than six innings in any of his eight starts this season. He also has never gone the distance in 23 major league starts.
The 25-year-old left-hander has been one of the Royals’ most consistent starters in 2022. He has allowed more than three runs only twice, only once since his first start of the season.
Lynch hasn’t had much success against Cleveland, going 0-1 with a 7.24 ERA in three career starts, all of them last year.
In his latest outing, he gave up two runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday. He walked two and struck out six, keeping his club in the game long enough for the Royals to come back to win late.
“That’s something that I’ve felt like I tried to do a lot more this year, just pitch to my strengths and trust that my strengths are going to work,” Lynch said. “Obviously, there’s a little more nuance to it than that, but you pick out the pitches that you trust and go with those until you get told to make an adjustment.”
Quantrill, who is 4-0 with a 2.83 ERA in seven career outings (four starts) against the Royals, opened the season with a victory in Kansas City, but he hasn’t won a game since then. He limited the Royals to two runs on four hits in five innings on April 10.
In his latest two starts, he has allowed just three runs total in 13 innings but wound up with a loss and a no-decision.
Quantrill was charged with two runs on six hits and four walks over six innings in a 2-1 loss to the Houston Astros on Wednesday.
“I thought he was terrific,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “I thought he competed like crazy. I think when he goes out there, we are going to have a chance to win. I don’t care who we’re playing.”
–Field Level Media