How ’bout them rookie Royals?

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We’re going to have a lot of Small Sample Size Theater this week. Stuff we observe during the season’s infancy that, while unsustainable and probably meaningless in the grand scheme of things, is fun to observe all the same.  One of the first things that fit this bill in 2011 is the Royals’ relievers, particularly the rookies down in that pen.

Aaron Crow, Tim Collins and Nate Adcock have combined for eight innings of shutout relief in Kansas City’s first four games. Collins and Crow have struck out 11 guys between them. I got a chance to watch both Crow and Collins pitch over the weekend and I was most impressed with Crow’s fantastic, moving fastball. Collins, who is 5’7″ and that may be stretching it, is really fun too thanks to that delivery of his which kind of makes him look like the love child of Gene Garber and Tim Lincecum. Add in the always-dominant Joakim Soria’s three scoreless innings thus far and the Royals have themselves a nice pen.

There’s a beauty in watching a team with no immediate expectations. If you don’t get too bogged down on the negatives, you can find yourself pleasantly surprised by parts of it in isolation. Indeed, I’d argue that you can enjoy stuff like nice relief pitching on a less-than-competitive team more than you can on a contender because it’s easier to divorce it from the whole and not worry about the implications of it all so much.

Put differently, the Royals’ bullpen — for now anyway — is art for art’s sake, and that is often the most enjoyable art there can be.

Kenley Jansen’s consecutive saves streak ends at 34

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Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen gave up three runs in the top of the ninth inning during Sunday’s game against the Braves, blowing his first save since August 26 last season. He had converted 34 consecutive saves.

Jansen yielded back-to-back singles to lead off the ninth inning, staked to a 4-1 lead. After getting two outs, Matt Adams hit a three-run home run down the right field line to knot the game at four apiece.

After Sunday’s lackluster performance, Jansen is now 24-for-25 in save chances this season with a 1.49 ERA and a 62/2 K/BB ratio in 42 1/3 innings.

Zach Britton sets American League record with 55th consecutive save

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Orioles closer Zach Britton finished Sunday’s 9-7 victory over the Astros with a scoreless ninth inning, earning his sixth save of the season. He has now earned the save in 55 consecutive opportunities dating back to September 2015, setting a new American League record. Tom Gordon previously held the record with 54 consecutive saves. Eric Gagne holds the major league record at 84.

Britton’s last blown save came on September 20, 2015, then converted two more saves before the end of the regular season. He went 47-for-47 in save chances last season and is six-for-six so far this year.

Along with his six saves, Britton has a 2.65 ERA and a 13/8 K/BB ratio in 17 innings this season. The lefty came off the disabled list earlier this month after missing two months with a strained left forearm.