SEATTLE -- The Royals' relief pitchers are almost certain to post the best bullpen ERA in franchise history.
The bullpen mark was 2.45 going into the final five games on Wednesday night. The best previous mark was 2.80 in strike-shortened 1981 (103 games) or, if you prefer a full season, 2.92 in 1976.
The 1976 team featured these low relief ERAs: Mark Littell, 2.08; Larry Gura, 2.30; Steve Mingori, 2.32; and Marty Pattin, 2.49. The 1981 leader was Dan Quisenberry, 1.73.
In addition, the overall pitching staff ERA of 3.45 is the best since the 3.44 by the 1978 staff. That marks a huge improvement over last year's 4.30.
The '78 top guns were starters Gura, 2.72; Rich Gale, 3.04; Dennis Leonard, 3.33; and Paul Splittorff, 3.40; and relievers Mingori, 2.74; Al Hrabosky, 2.88, and Pattin, 3.32.
Left-hander Bruce Chen has been both a reliever and a starter this season, and he had some thoughts on the pitching progress.
"I think it's more with the starters going deep into games; we didn't overuse the bullpen, and that allowed them to be better," Chen said. "Also, knowing that we had such a good bullpen, the starters didn't have to push it and throw 120 pitches every time out. I'm proud to be part of both the starters and the bullpen and, overall, part of the whole thing. So I'm very proud of that."
Royals GM Moore: I definitely want Yost back
SEATTLE -- Ned Yost does not need to convince one very important person that he should return as the Royals' manager in 2014. General manager Dayton Moore is in his corner.
"Ned's done a terrific job, and I definitely want him back," Moore said Wednesday.
Moore was in the visitors' dugout at Safeco Field before Wednesday night's game against the Mariners when he was asked about Yost's status. Yost is without a contract for next season.
"Ned and I made an advance decision a month or so ago that anything that we would discuss would be after the season, and we've held to that," Moore said. "Like I said before, Ned's done a terrific job, and I definitely want him back. We're going to sit down and talk about it."
Actually, while Moore has praised Yost's performance before, this is the first time he has said publicly that he wants his manager back.
"He's done a terrific job, and it goes without saying that I want him back," Moore repeated.
The Royals went into Wednesday's action with a very thin but still mathematically possible chance to secure a Wild Card berth in the American League playoffs. Their 83-74 record matched the victory total of the 2003 team, which was the franchise's lone above-.500 team since 1994.
One possible complication might be that Yost would be seeking the security of a multi-year contract, and Moore's own contract runs only through 2014. It is rare for a general manager to sign a manager for a time period longer than his own.
"I don't know; it's total speculation," Moore said. "Ned and I haven't spoken in any detail. I guess he wants to come back, I mean I don't know."
Perhaps the team's success could mean an extension of Moore's deal. The general manager did not respond directly to that suggestion.
"I'm very proud of everything that we've accomplished," he said. "It's been a season of growth for us. But we're certainly not where we want to be. I'm just like everybody else. You always wish you could have done more, but we'll just see how it unfolds the next five games."
Moore indicated that he would like to resolve Yost's status quickly.
"You certainly want it to be settled as soon as you can," Moore said. "We'll discuss it at the appropriate time."
For his part, Yost avoided the subject of his future.
"It's not up to me to answer; you're asking the wrong guy," he said.
Yost was hired as the Royals' 16th full-time manager on May 13, 2010, moving from a front-office position to replace Trey Hillman. He signed a two-year contract with an option year on July 31, 2010, and the club exercised the option for 2013 prior to the 2012 season.
He has been a firm advocate of the Royals' process of building from within the organization to develop a roster composed largely of young homegrown players in an effort to become a contender. This was the first time in 10 years that the Royals had made a run at the postseason.
Under Yost, through Tuesday night, the Royals had a 281-327 record.
Chen open to staying in Kansas City in '14
SEATTLE -- Left-hander Bruce Chen is heading for free agency in the offseason, but he is certainly open to returning to the Royals.
"I haven't talked to anyone yet, because now we're trying to win and go to the postseason," Chen said before Wednesday night's game against the Mariners. "I think contracts at this point would be a distraction to what we're trying to do, and we have a whole winter to figure it out."
Chen, 36, is in his fifth season with Kansas City, a team he joined after missing 2008 because of Tommy John surgery. From 2010-12, he led the Royals' staff in victories (with 12, 12 and 11) and this year he has split time between the bullpen and the rotation. He has an 8-4 record and a 3.31 ERA with one start remaining in the regular-season finale.
"I like it here, and I'd like to see if hopefully we can get something done here, but definitely we're going to keep Kansas City in our options," Chen said. "We have a very good team here -- a good defense, a good offense -- and hopefully we can work something out."
Chen also became a free agent after the 2010 season and signed a two-year, $9 million contract. The Royals are his 10th Major League team.
"I'm just going to go out there and wait and see what happens, and if I become a free agent, then we'll see what other teams say," Chen said. "But definitely I'm going to keep a close eye on what Kansas City's going to do.
"It's a waiting game, because the Royals have so many options, so many good pitchers, young guys, and also there are so many good free agents out there, and [Ervin] Santana is one of them. So it's just going to be interesting. But right now my whole focus is I've got one more start on Sunday. I want to finish strong, and we want to finish strong."
Kansas City pitchers near franchise record for K's
SEATTLE -- Royals pitchers are heading toward another new team strikeout record.
Heading into Wednesday night's game against the Mariners, the staff needed just 10 strikeouts to pass the record 1,177 from last year.
The total before Wednesday included 186 by James Shields, 159 by Ervin Santana, 112 by Wade Davis, 107 by Jeremy Guthrie and 99 by Greg Holland.
Holland's 99 came in just 65 innings, putting him four Ks shy of Jim York's club record for a reliever (103 in 1971). York got his total in 93 1/3 innings.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.