The torrid Atlanta Braves lineup, and its proclivity for home runs, is making a mess of bullpens all around baseball. The Upton brothers basically removed Carlos Marmol from our closing thoughts last week, and in Tuesday's action, the Braves took dead aim at well-regarded Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera in the eighth inning. (Roll the tape here: skip to the 1:11 mark for the key video).
Jason Heyward started the binge, then Justin Upton followed (let me know when it lands), and then Dan Uggla did the trick. Three homers in four at-bats off one frustrated reliever. So much for the tie game; say hello to another Braves victory. And boom goes the dynamite.
I'm not intending to bash Herrera, who was lights-out in his first six appearances. And it's tricky to know where closer Greg Holland is at these days, given the Royals haven't been using him. He hasn't worked in a game since his dodge-em special against Minnesota back on April 9 (the Twins left the bases loaded, and the clouds basically opened up during the game-ending strikeout of Joe Mauer). You get the idea Holland will likely pitch in Wednesday's matinee against the Braves, even if it's the dreaded "get some work" appearance. This entire blog post could be irrelevant in less than two hours.
There's been talk of Herrera possibly tipping his pitches in the Tuesday outing. Maybe there's something there, but I tend to discount that sort of thing. When an electric arm like Herrera is on point, you could tell the batter ahead of time what's coming and it probably wouldn't matter. Let's simply tip the caps to the surging Braves and move along.
One other Kansas City mound nugget for your lunchtime consumption: let's appreciate what Jeremy Guthrie has done for this ballclub since being released from Coors Field purgatory last July: 110.2 IP, 100 H, 22 BB, 73 K, 3.17 ERA, 1.10 WHIP. This is one vastly underrated pitcher. He's currently free to grab in 80 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Wednesday Update, 2:46 pm: And the leash gets longer for Holland – he finally returned to action and in style, striking out the side to secure Kansas City's 1-0 victory at Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon. Holland needed just 14 pitches to get the job done, and he went through the 3-4-5 slots in the order: Kid Upton, Evan Gattis and Dan Uggla. Holland did pick up a couple of borderline calls from home plate umpire Doug Eddings, but no quibbles here – this was obviously his sharpest outing of the season. He cranked it up to 97 with his best fastball, and he also had excellent command of his slider.
Herrera worked in the victory and also redeemed himself, retiring three of four batters (working around a single) in the eighth. He struck out one. And the Royals also enjoyed seven shutout innings from Wade Davis (5 H, 0 BB, 7 K), his second gem in a row. He'll go twice next week, facing Detroit and Cleveland.
Follow Roto Arcade on Facebook: it will change your life (for the better!).