Kansas City Royals Could Find Rotation Help in John Lamb
By David Hill
John Lamb‘s journey back from Tommy John surgery was quite the rough trek. We have become accustomed to seeing pitchers come back from the surgery stronger than ever, even throwing a bit harder at times. Lamb, meanwhile, seemed destined to fall into that increasingly rare percentage of pitchers who, after undergoing the procedure, never get their careers back on track, falling by the wayside and proving that even the most routine of procedures, as this surgery has become, can still fail to produce results.
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After a dreadful 2013 season that saw Lamb post a 5-14 record with a 5.80 ERA, the former Kansas City Royals top prospect appeared to turn a corner last season. Even though he struggled with his control at times, Lamb produced a solid 8-10 record with a 3.97 ERA. Yes, his 1.482 WHiP was higher than one would want to see, but Lamb still showed enough of a turnaround where there was hope that he could still develop for the Royals.
This season, Lamb has done just that. Three years removed from his procedure, Lamb is starting to look like that top prospect that the Royals had. In his eight starts for Omaha, the still 24 year old Lamb has posted a 6-1 record with a 2.74 ERA and a 1.217 WHiP. In his 46 innings, Lamb has issued only 18 walks while striking out exactly a batter an inning. This is what the Kansas City Royals had been hoping for since he was injured.
Obviously, the biggest question with John Lamb is whether or not this production can be sustainable. In looking at Lamb’s numbers at Omaha this season, they may well be. Lamb has given up a .296 batting average on balls in play, which is slightly below the Pacific Coast League average of .318, certainly not a large enough discrepancy to dictate that luck with the batted ball is a factor in his success.
Lamb has also continued his fly ball tendencies this season, as 35.8% of balls put into play end up as a fly ball into the outfield. Yet, despite the majority of Lamb’s pitches ending up in the air, he has typically given up softer than usual contact. Only four of those balls have ended up as home runs, and Lamb has a mere 16.7% line drive rate on the season.
With the success that John Lamb has had thus far in the minors, and the continued struggles of the Kansas City Royals rotation this season, it may be fair to wonder if he will be able to make his long awaited debut this season. His results in Omaha would appear to indicate that his is ready for that to happen, but the Royals certainly cannot be faulted if they are taking a cautious approach with Lamb, wanting to see if his success thus far can be sustained for more than this small sample size of eight starts.
If so, then the Kansas City Royals may have found a possible option to bolster their rotation in a seemingly unlikely place. John Lamb may have once been expected to be a part of the Royals rotation, and now, after years of setbacks and injury, he may finally get his chance soon.