Back end of Kansas City Royals' bullpen is historically good

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There's no perfect formula for what will make a successful relief pitcher.

Sometimes, fireballers grow up pitching the short situations. Most times, the process begins as a starter. For whatever reason, that doesn't work out. Then, they try relieving. If that doesn't work out, the door out of baseball comes quickly, especially for righties.

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That's why it shouldn't be a surprise that former starter Wade Davis, who came over along with James Shields from the Rays for Wil Myers, has found his niche at the back end of the Royals' rotation. It's more surprising that they have two career relievers in Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera in the back end of the bullpen along with him.

Combined, they have been one of the best reliever trios in baseball history.

This year, all three have ERAs under 1.50. The last time that happened, with three guys throwing over 50 innings, it came from the 1907 Cubs (think dead-ball era).

What has gone right?

In most games, they have taken the ball from the starter in the sixth inning or soon after and dominated the opponent. That makes the game easier from a starter's perspective, knowing if you take a lead into the seventh your bullpen has your back.

"All three of them have been dynamite all year long," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "And for a team to have three knockout relievers like we've got, it's pretty special. There's not a lot of teams that have three guys that you can count on to come in and close the door and turn a nine-inning game into a six-inning game."

During the ALCS, they won without having any starters reach the seventh. The 2011 Rangers are the only other team credited with accomplishing that.

"You know, for me, the whole focus is just get through the sixth inning tied or with the lead so that we could get to those guys," Yost said. "If we have the lead, I feel like the game is over. If we're tied, I feel like they're going to hold us there until we score a run."

Can they lose?

Any team can lose and the World Series can do crazy things to pitchers. Just ask the 2006 Detroit Tigers pitching staff, which suddenly forgot how to throw the ball to first base and five errors in a World Series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. broke down how to beat each of them recently, but it's obviously easier said than done.

Herrera can be attacked on his first-pitch fastballs, while the others give up hits sparingly.

"Kelvin figured out how to become a complete pitcher and how to think about situations, and it's really clicked for him this year," Holland said. "I always knew Wade had good stuff, and you never really know how that's going to transition going from a starter to a reliever, so it's been a lot of fun to watch those two guys work."

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