KC Royals: Is Kyle Zimmer Part Of The October Plan?


With the KC Royals now holding a 10.5 game lead over the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central, it’s natural for fans to look ahead and wonder how the club will shape up for the playoffs in October. And, with phenom Kyle Zimmer dominating in AA, I can’t help but believe we’ll see him on the playoff roster.

While I certainly don’t want the players taking on such a mindset, or else we could replicate the Oakland A’s collapse last season, I can’t blame fans for looking ahead when Fangraphs.com puts the Kansas City Royals playoff odds at 99.6%.

At this point, I can’t help but wonder what kind of tweaks we might see manager Ned Yost make to his roster to help his team succeed in the tight games of October.

One move everyone expects is to add speedster Terrance Gore as a pinch runner in place of Paulo Orlando. Orlando is fast, but he’s not the terrifying basepath thief that is Terrance Gore.

Another move that would surprise no one is for the KC Royals to drop 5th starter Jeremy Guthrie from the playoff roster. Typically, teams only need four starters in October, since playoff series include off days for travel. With Chris Young and Kris Medlen, the Kansas City Royals would be well set in case they needed an emergency start from someone outside the regular rotation.

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That would open up another spot, which I expect Yost to use to add an extra reliever. With Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura putting up inconsistent starts this season, the KC Royals manager would be wise to be ready to pull them before games get out of hand in the playoffs.

Ideally, the Kansas City Royals would add a second left-handed reliever. However, I don’t see any young minor-league lefty ready to dominate in October. The KC Royals do have former 2012 first round draft pick Kyle Zimmer (a right hander) impressing at AA NW Arkansas.

The soon-to-be 24-year-old Zimmer has always had the stuff. Scouts think he’s got the best arm in the system. Scoutbook.com cites Kyle Zimmer’s 98 mph fastball as his calling card, a pitch which has both good movement and late life. That makes him effective against hitters from both sides of the plate. Zimmer compliments his heat with a curve and slider.

Kyle Zimmer’s problem has been health. He keeps getting hurt. First his knee, then his shoulder. At least he hasn’t torn his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). However, when he’s pitched, he’s pretty much dominated at every level. Zimmer is currently at AA, with a 2.16 ERA and a 9.8 K/9.

Zimmer has moved into the starting rotation for the Naturals,  but he could be headed to the KC Royals when rosters expand in September. Northwest Arkansas beat write Paul Boyd’s tweets about a conversation he had with Kansas City Royals excutive J.J. Picollo made this possibility clear:

The second tweet is the most interesting one. Clearly, Picollo is so confident in Zimmer’s stuff, he’s sure what he’s seeing in NW Arkansas will play against major-league hitters. The interesting part is the idea about Kyle Zimmer to the majors in September.

Conventional wisdom might suggest it would be an early audition for a rotation spot next season, but the KC Royals are likely to be in a fight for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. In that case, Ned Yost will not have much opportunity to hold early tryouts for next year.

But, what if the Kansas City Royals front office thinks that Zimmer could do what Brandon Finnegan did in the playoffs last season? In that case, a September call-up could be an audition to determine if Kyle Zimmer is ready to help the team in October.

A guy with a 98 mph live fastball certainly sounds like he could help the relief corps. Kyle Zimmer could add another fireballer to the stacked KC Royals bullpen, along with the added benefit that opponents wouldn’t have much of a scouting book on him. By bringing up Zimmer, Ned Yost would have the luxury of pulling a struggling starter even before the fifth inning in order to hold onto an early lead.

If Kyle Zimmer joins the big club in September and performs well,  don’t be surprised if we’re seeing him getting big outs in October.

Next: KC Royals August Trade Targets: Kyle Lohse

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