Ned Yost’s bullpen management strikes again

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Royals manager Ned Yost has, at times, caused one to scratch one’s head with his bullpen management. Another head-scratcher occurred in the sixth inning of Sunday afternoon’s game against the Red Sox.

The Red Sox put their first two hitters on base with singles against Royals starter Jason Vargas. After Vargas, with the left-on-left match-up, got David Ortiz to fly out, Yost brought in Aaron Crow. Nothing against Crow, who has had a decent season, but seeing as contact is something one wants to avoid in that situation, bringing in the reliever with the 13.7 percent strikeout rate — the ninth worst among qualified relievers and the worst in the Royals’ bullpen — seems sub-optimal.

Crow did manage to get a strikeout, but it was sandwiched between a walk of Yoenis Cespedes to load the bases and a home run to Daniel Nava, which unloaded the bases. After the game, Yost said, “It’s frustrating that we were one out away from getting to Kelvin Herrera.” Herrera owns a 21.5 percent strikeout rate.

More, via Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star:

When analysts criticize the current bullpen management zeitgeist, this is why. Most managers are beholden to established roles rather than remaining fluid and flexible, using their best relievers in the most important situations instead.

The Royals dropped the game to the Red Sox, and the Tigers won against the Indians, which means the Tigers push their AL Central lead to 1.5 games with 14 games remaining.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.