Bullpen arms heating up during win streak

Bullpen arms heating up during win streak

KANSAS CITY -- There's been a warming trend sighted recently for the Royals' bullpen.

After notching four hitless innings in Saturday's 5-4 win over the Twins, the relievers have put together 14 consecutive scoreless innings.

That stretch began in the three-game sweep of Houston and continued through the first two victories in the current Minnesota series. That hot streak has dropped the bullpen ERA from 5.13 to 3.35.

In Saturday's success, Danny Duffy walked the first batter he faced, but that was the only baserunner in the last four innings. He retired the next six batters, while Wade Davis and Greg Holland each fired a perfect inning.

"This is as good as Wade Davis has thrown," manager Ned Yost said. "He came out of the gate with a 95-95 mph fastball. Holly 96-97. Duff's been great since we got him up here."

During the 14-inning shutout streak, the relievers have compiled 21 strikeouts against six hits and four walks.

"They've settled in pretty nice here," Yost said.

"It's just settling into the season. They're getting all the new year behind them, starting off. That's why we talk about Opening Days and stuff. It's all the hype, all the excitement. The players are amped up and we talk about getting into the grind of the everyday routine, and now they're settling into the routine. You just settle in."

Last year, the bullpen settled in so well that it had the best ERA in the American League at 2.55, which also was the best in franchise history. Only Atlanta's 2.46 was better in the Majors last year.

The bullpen is currently operating with Luke Hochevar out for the season with elbow surgery and with Tim Collins (left flexor strain) and Francisley Bueno (sprained left pinkie) on the 15-day disabled list. Both left-handers threw side sessions on Friday

"Collins felt great; Bueno still felt his finger on occasion on changeups, not fastballs or sliders," Yost said. "They're both making good progress."

Both are eligible to come off the DL on Tuesday.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.