Bullpen hitting its stride during August

Bullpen hitting its stride during August

Bullpen hitting its stride during August
BOSTON -- The Royals are bullish on their bullpen.

In the 25 games prior to Monday's series finale against the Red Sox, the Royals' relief corps had a 1.94 ERA, charged with just 16 earned runs in 74 2/3 innings. In that span, only two other Major League bullpens had better ERAs -- Tampa Bay (1.08 ERA) and Atlanta (1.43 ERA).

"We've been throwing well for the last month or so. Hopefully we can keep it up in September and finish strong," right-hander Aaron Crow said.

The upturn has followed better and longer performances by the Royals' starters.

"They've been throwing the ball a lot better, so it's nice," said Crow. "It's given us a break, so when we come in there, everybody's fresh and we're winning a lot more games, too."

There had been concern earlier in the season that the bullpen was racking up so many innings that the young pitchers might be worn down late in the season. Crow, along with Greg Holland, Tim Collins and Kelvin Herrera, is over the 50-inning mark, but he doesn't feel fatigued.

"No, not at all," Crow said. "I think everyone's done a good job of keeping their bodies in shape and ready to go. I feel strong, and I think it's safe to say pretty much everybody down there does."

Crow was an All-Star as a rookie in 2011 and this is his second full year of relief work. During Spring Training, the Royals tried converting him into a starter -- his role at the University of Missouri and in the Minor Leagues -- but that idea was abandoned.

He enjoys the bullpen, but what if the Royals again broached the starting possibility?

"I'd be open for it. I'd try anything," Crow said, "but right now I'll stick to the bullpen until I get told otherwise. I feel comfortable doing either one, so we'll just see what happens."