Kansas City Royals Kyle Zimmer Could Make Case for 2016 Rotation


Heading into next season, the Kansas City Royals starting rotation is virtually set. In all likelihood, barring injury or an unforeseen trade, the Royals will have Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy, Kris Medlen and Edinson Volquez as the top four starters, with one slot open, unless the Royals retain the services of Johnny Cueto beyond this season’s postseason run.

Since it is unlikely that either Cueto, or any of the other top starting pitchers, will end up in Kansas City next season, that vacancy will need to be filled in some way. While the Royals could certainly look to sign a low cost veteran option, such as they did with Chris Young this past offseason, there may be a better alternative waiting in the minor leagues. The 2016 season may be the time for Kyle Zimmer to stake his claim to that fifth spot in the Royals rotation.

Obviously, there are quite a few concerns when it comes to Zimmer. He has not exactly been the paragon of health since signing with the Royals, missing time in each of his four years in the organization. The injury concerns have led to Zimmer pitching a total of 69.2 innings over the past two seasons, including his time in the Arizona Fall League. Needless to say, it is difficult to trust that he will be able to remain healthy for an extended stretch of time.

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However, after starting off the season in the bullpen, Kyle Zimmer has transitioned to the starting rotation with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Despite his 0-4 record since becoming a starter once again, Zimmer has pitched fairly well, posting a 3.32 ERA while walking five batters and recording 17 strikeouts in his 19 innings of work. Perhaps more significantly, Zimmer has been able to get to between 70 and 85 pitches in each start without any of his injury woes making an appearance.

Zimmer could even get a bit of an audition for the Royals at the major league level this season. His solid performance in the minors has opened the door for Zimmer to potentially receive a callup in September once the rosters expand, and the possibility that he could reprise the bullpen role that Brandon Finnegan held down last year.

Should that occur, and Zimmer performs well in that role, he could find himself as the favorite for the final spot in the starting rotation next season. After all, Yordano Ventura had the same sort of audition back in 2013 when the Royals were attempting to chase down the final Wild Card spot, and he parlayed that success into a spot on the rotation in 2014. Could Zimmer, if given the chance, do the same?

The Kansas City Royals may be on track to have the best record in the American League this season, but they may also be looking ahead to next year as well. If that is the case, and Kyle Zimmer does get that callup when rosters expand, he could be auditioning for a spot in the 2016 Royals rotation.

Next: Royals Seeing Yordano Ventura Become an Ace