The KC Royals still need help in their starting rotation. Could it be that top prospect Kyle Zimmer will be a part of the solution next year?
It is not a secret that the KC Royals are looking to upgrade their starting rotation. They had been linked to Scott Kazmir prior to his signing with the Dodgers, and the Royals have been linked to Yovani Gallardo and Wei-Yin Chen. Even with Chris Young back in the fold, it is quite evident that Dayton Moore wants more pitching depth.
However, it may be that the Royals look elsewhere for help in the starting rotation. Should free agency not work out, there are internal options that the Royals could look at. According to Assistant General Manager JJ Piccolo, that could include top prospect Kyle Zimmer.
It would certainly be a turnaround in fortunes for Zimmer should he be a part of the Royals early season pitching staff. There was no questioning his potential, as Zimmer was consistently rated as a top 100 prospect in baseball over the past three seasons; however, his health was questionable at best. After missing parts of his four seasons with a myriad of injuries, it was fair to wonder if Zimmer would ever reach his true potential.
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Last season, after starting off the season on the disabled list, Zimmer pitched quite well. In his 64 innings of work, Zimmer posted a 2.39 ERA and a 1.141 WHiP, striking out 72 batters against 20 walks. In splitting his time between the rotation and the bullpen, Zimmer even managed to notch three saves as he dominated his competition.
Should Zimmer be healthy at the start of the season, he could be a solid low cost option for the Royals as that fifth starter. At some point, the Royals will need to see what they have in both Zimmer and Miguel Almonte, potentially making the 2016 season a good point to give either pitcher a chance to crack the Opening Day rotation.
Aside from his health, the biggest question surrounding Zimmer in 2016 will be his workload. Due to those injuries, Zimmer has pitched a combined 82.2 innings in the past two seasons. He only surpassed 100 innings once in his professional career, doing so in 2013. Even if Zimmer is healthy, it is easy to imagine that he will have an innings limit during the 2016 season to protect his arm and shoulder.
That expected innings limit may be a factor in when Zimmer makes his Royals debut. He could well find himself in Omaha or in Northwest Arkansas for a month or two, working out of the bullpen before slowly transitioning back into a starting role. Depending on the limit, it may not make sense for the Royals to bring him up until June or July, just to be sure that he can pitch for them down the stretch.
The KC Royals may get to see one of their top pitching prospects early in 2016, depending on Kyle Zimmer’s innings limit and health. If his health holds up, he could be a major part of the Royals hopes going forward.