SEATTLE -- The Royals' relief pitchers are almost certain to post the best bullpen ERA in franchise history.
The bullpen mark was 2.45 going into the final five games on Wednesday night. The best previous mark was 2.80 in strike-shortened 1981 (103 games) or, if you prefer a full season, 2.92 in 1976.
The 1976 team featured these low relief ERAs: Mark Littell, 2.08; Larry Gura, 2.30; Steve Mingori, 2.32; and Marty Pattin, 2.49. The 1981 leader was Dan Quisenberry, 1.73.
In addition, the overall pitching staff ERA of 3.45 is the best since the 3.44 by the 1978 staff. That marks a huge improvement over last year's 4.30.
The '78 top guns were starters Gura, 2.72; Rich Gale, 3.04; Dennis Leonard, 3.33; and Paul Splittorff, 3.40; and relievers Mingori, 2.74; Al Hrabosky, 2.88, and Pattin, 3.32.
Left-hander Bruce Chen has been both a reliever and a starter this season, and he had some thoughts on the pitching progress.
"I think it's more with the starters going deep into games; we didn't overuse the bullpen, and that allowed them to be better," Chen said. "Also, knowing that we had such a good bullpen, the starters didn't have to push it and throw 120 pitches every time out. I'm proud to be part of both the starters and the bullpen and, overall, part of the whole thing. So I'm very proud of that."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.