Royals Look For Someone To Step Up After Tim Collins Injury
On Thursday, it was confirmed that Kansas City Royals pitcher, Tim Collins, had undergone season-ending Tommy John surgery. It was something we assumed would happen after his recent elbow complaints, but Royals fans were still hopeful for a better outcome.
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Now that we know the Royals left-handed reliever is out for the season, it leaves unanswered questions for the team. With a limited number of lefties on the team and in the farm system who are options, panic begins to set in for fans.
Thankfully, the Royals season was not fully relying on Collins, but any injury during spring training leaves the team with limited time to come up with a successful solution. This is especially true in a year when fans are expecting to see their team contend for that American League pennant for a second straight year. It certainly does not leave much room for error.
As we wait on how Ned Yost and the Royals will handle the loss of Collins, it is starting to seem like deja vu. A year ago the Royals were in a very similar situation.
Before the 2014 season, the Royals were relying on Luke Hochevar to be their setup man. He, like Collins, needed to have season-ending Tommy John surgery. The injury left the Royals with questions as to who was available and able to step up into this role.
During this same time, Wade Davis was trying to find where he fit in on the 2014 team that had big expectations for the year. There was talk of whether he would be a good fit as a back-end starter, or possibly a middle reliever. With the injury to Hochevar, there were suddenly be other plans for him. It basically forced Davis to replace Hochevar’s role in the bullpen.
It is no secret to Royals fans how that plan went. Saying that Davis was successful might be the biggest understatement of the year. He turned into the core of the dynamic trio H-D-H. As the setup man, he ended the season with a 1.00 ERA and even lower 0.63 ERA during the postseason. The H-D-H combination was something that became well-known around baseball and among baseball fans. Also a bonus for all of us as Royals fans, it was unbelievably exciting to watch!
As we stumble across a very similar situation, it has us hopeful that a damaging injury could allow a hidden gem in the Royals organization to step up and fill this empty slot in the bullpen.
The first name that comes to mind for most of us is Brandon Finnegan. Finnegan is in a similar position as Wade Davis was a year ago, trying to find where he fits in on this team. Where will he be most successful? The Royals have intended for Finnegan to be a starter but that is something that is constantly being debated.
Is it possible that Finnegan could be the Wade Davis of 2015? Meaning, coming into a role not originally intended for him, but ending up being a great surprise, exactly what the team needs. Finnegan definitely showed his potential coming out of the bullpen towards the end of the 2014 season, and most memorably, in the postseason.
There have also been names thrown out such as John Lamb, Brian Flynn, Franklin Morales and Joe Paterson as being left-handed options to replace Collins in the bullpen.
Whoever ends up joining the bullpen can definitely follow Davis’ pattern from last year. However, the replacement of Collins will most likely not have as many opportunities to make the impact that Davis had on the team in 2014. With H-D-H firmly intact going into 2015, Collins would have been a 6th inning reliever at best. There were far more opportunities to step up for someone like Davis who was coming in as an 8th inning setup man.
Whatever is decided, we can only hope that this unfortunate injury to Collins can shed some sort of light on someone that the Royals were not aware could be a successful middle reliever and surprise us all.