The Kansas City Royals host the San Francisco Giants in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday, and KC is hoping for another stellar series from its bullpen – specifically Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland.
“I think (that bullpen is) exceptional,” MLB Network senior research manager Elliott Kalb said on Ferrall on the Bench. “I think it’s very good. I don’t know if it’s sustainable for another four-to-seven games. I think the Giants’ bullpen is excellent. I think it’s as good as the Royals’ bullpen. I think the history shows that . . . the hot bullpen wins. Kansas City sure has had a hot bullpen, and a lot of people think the Royals are going to win this year’s World Series because of it.”
But why would the Royals’ bullpen not be sustainable? They’ve won eight games in a row.
Answer: Kalb is a stubborn guy. Late in the regular season, he wrote off the Royals and said the Tigers would win the division by a landslide and advance deep into the postseason. When the Royals led Baltimore 3-0 in the ALCS, Kalb wrote that the Orioles would become just the second team in MLB history to come back from a 3-0 deficit.
“I just wasn’t buying the Royals,” Kalb said. “I don’t see it. I’m picking the Giants in five and that’s my story. But I’ve been wrong on this team.”
And it most certainly is a team. The Royals are a selfless, low-budget bunch of guys who just go out and do their job. They’ve got a great bullpen, they’ve got solid starting pitching, they play great defense and they do just enough offensively to win games. It’s been a magical run.
And Kalb sees it ending – in part because the Giants’ Opening Day payroll was almost $60 million higher than that of the Royals.
“They don’t have a lot of high-prices talent, and usually the team with a bigger payroll wins,” Kalb said. “Occasionally a Marlins team will knock off a Yankees team in a World Series, but that’s rare. It’s rare.”
But it’s happened.
“It happened, and it could happen again,” Kalb said. “And that’s the beauty of sports. You never really know what’s going to happen. But you say (the Royals have good starting pitching). I’ll take that starting pitching of the Giants. James Shields (is) going to go against (Madison) Bumgarner twice.”
That starts in Game 1 on Tuesday. Bumgarner, as we all know, has been an October hero. Shields, on the other hand, has just one quality start in seven postseason outings. Thus, Kalb scoffs at those who insist the Royals have pitching just as good as the Giants.
“They don’t,” he said. “They don’t have Bumgarner.”
Either way, Kalb believes a team that has won eight straight games is going to lose four of its next five – despite having home-field advantage.
“The Angels didn’t show me much,” he said. “The Orioles didn’t show me much. It’s up to the Giants. This Royals team won 88 games and they’re a team on the come. They got good, young, homegrown talent, and it’s a fun team for people to get behind and root for. I understand it. I get it. I’m just not buying it again.”