Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/8/14
Mlb_arizona_diamondbacks_ecdf

Many writers scoffed when Ned Yost and the Kansas City Royals handed the closer’s role to right-hander Jonathan Broxton this spring. After all, Broxton is returning from an elbow injury that rendered him ineffective (5.63 FIP) and held him to only 14 appearances last season, while fellow right-hander Greg Holland burst onto the scene in 2011 with an 11.10 K/9 strikeout rate and a minuscule 2.21 FIP.

It only seemed natural that Greg Holland be given the job in the spring. He is arguably the best reliever in the Royals’ bullpen and was utterly dominating throughout all of 2011. The decision to hand the reins to Broxton was largely branded as the epitome of pandering to the baseball cliche of the “closer mentality.” Broxton possessed it because he had accumulated 84 saves over the course of his seven-year career. Holland, on the other hand, only has four career saves, so question marks remain as to whether he has closer mentality.

On Sunday afternoon against the Los Angeles Angels, however, Broxton entered the game in a save situation and struck out three consecutive hitters: Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells, and Kendrys Morales. While not three of the most dangerous hitters in the league, Broxton alleviated some of the fears concerning his effectiveness that the majority of Royals fans harbored heading into the season.

But, does this mean the Jonathan Broxton has returned?

The early results indicate that Broxton has turned a corner and should produce results closer to the strong 2006-2009 seasons, rather than the lackluster 2010-2011 seasons. The swinging strikes had been on the decline in each of the past two years, but he generated six swings-and-misses on Sunday on only fourteen pitches. While that 42.86% SwStr% is certainly not sustainable throughout the course of the season, it serves as a positive harbinger for subsequent performances as the season wears on.

Perhaps the most encouraging aspect to Broxton’s inning of work on Sunday was the rebound in velocity. His once overpowering fastball had decreased in velocity over the past couple of seasons, which ultimately played a significant role in his lessened effectiveness, but pitch f/x registered his average fastball velocity back at 2008-2009 levels.

Year MPH 2008 96.3 2009 97.8 2010 95.3 2011 94.1 Yesterday 97.02

Not only did Broxton throw his fastball significantly harder on Sunday than he has in previous years, but his slider was also ridiculous. The average velocity of his slider against the Los Angeles Angels was 90.04 MPH. The career high average for Broxton’s slider was in 2009, when he averaged 88.6 MPH over the course of the season. More importantly, he threw his slider five times and threw five strikes — three of them of the swinging variety.

One outing is far too little to officially declare Jonathan Broxton healthy and “back” to his elite level of performance. It could simply be a blip on the radar screen. However, his stellar spring performance (1.13 ERA and 12.4 K/9), his increased velocity on both his fastball and slider, and his clean bill of health all suggest that the right-hander is poised for a huge comeback season on the mound for the Royals.

After the season ends, the one-year, $4M contract that Broxton signed could be one of the biggest bargains of the offseason.


GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Goodell will not recuse himself from Brady appeal

Will Smith suspended eight games for 'foreign substance'

Report: Kobe Bryant likely to retire following next season

Don Shula named in painkiller lawsuit from former NFL players

Kyrie Irving questionable for Game 2 versus Atlanta

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Michael Sam signs with CFL’s Montreal Alouettes

Ex-A&M quarterback Kenny Hill transferring to TCU

Michael Bennett compares Pete Carroll to Willy Wonka

Jim Kelly: There is no doubt Tom Brady cheated

Warriors hang on, edge Rockets in Game 2 thriller

Farrell 'not ruling anything out' as Red Sox's struggles persist

The Los Angeles Angels are finally finding their groove

Re-evaluating all 30 MLB teams at the quarter mark, ranked

Is virtual reality training the next leap forward for football?

Warriors a very shaky 2-0 against the Rockets

NFL icon Bud Grant zings Pats with Deflategate joke on Twitter

RG3 announces birth daughter's birth on social media

Don't listen to Nick Saban, the bowl system is just fine

MLB scores partial victory in minor league wage lawsuits

Ranking the NBA Playoffs' most significant injuries

WATCH: Will Smith ejected for foreign substance on arm

Guy behind NFL's social media trolling of Pats is a Jets fan?

In defense of 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Jim Kelly: No doubt Tom Brady cheated

Post-combine NBA Draft big board: Top 30

Ex-players sue NFL for conspiring to push painkillers

Astros surprising, but can get better with Correa

Here come the Giants

Aaron Hernandez got new tattoo in prison

TUF weekly recap by NOS® Energy Drink

Ten players who could benefit due to PAT rule change

Five QBs set for breakout campaigns

Report: Lakers will pursue Thibodeau

MLS leaders struggling with attendance

LBS: I was a contestant on Sports Jeopardy!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.