It seems so simple. Record the third out. It’s so simple yet it’s something Royals pitchers have seemed to struggle with for years. And it’s not just the third out. Sometimes it’s the third strike. Whatever the finishing touch is from pitcher to batter, a key to the Royals 2012 season is figuring out exactly how they are going to both put away batters and innings. Look at what Danny Duffy did last season as a rookie. How many times did he get to two strikes only to not be able to put the hitter away? Competing in 2012 will depend on the pitchers getting that third strike, that third out.
Getting the third out has a benefit beyond actually ending the inning. It saves pitches, which, in baseball today, is an extremely important factor as pitchers rarely exceed 120 pitches and even that is a bit of a high number. Think about all those times Duffy couldn’t get the third strike and what would have happened if he had. That’s a big reason why his pitch counts were so high and he struggled to get past the fifth or sixth inning. Saving pitches means getting more innings out of the starters and taxing the bullpen less. It seems so simple, but it’s an affliction that strikes Duffy, Hochevar, Sanchez, Paulino and might be an issue for Mendoza as well. If the Royals can solve that, it will go a long way toward moving up the standings.
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