Brian Flynn had the best season of his career in 2016. After suffering a freak injury due to a barn incident, he missed a large portion of 2017. Not able to regain his confidence, he spent nearly all the rest of his season in AAA. With the injury behind him and a new season to look forward to, can Flynn return to being the force he was just two years ago for the Royals?
If you haven’t read my season preview for Miguel Almonte, I highly suggest doing so. In that article, you can find links to the previous Kings of Kauffman season previews. The previous articles cover bullpen pieces that haven’t contributed much to the team in the past, unlike Brian Flynn. Many of you recognize his name and may recall him being a critical piece of the bullpen in 2016. Flynn posted a 2.60 ERA and struck out 44 batters in 55.1 innings of work that year, easily the best numbers of his career. This couldn’t have come at a better time for the then-26-year-old. Having established himself as one of the best relievers on the team, there were high expectations for Flynn to build off his previous season and dominate in 2017. As many of us know, that didn’t take place.
What did he offer last season?
Right as Spring Training was set to begin, a freak incident occurred at the Flynn residence. The 6’7″, 250-pound lefty fell through the roof of his barn, suffering fractures in his back and a broken rib in the process. The Kansas City Star later reported that Flynn was found unconscious by his wife after the fall. It was a blessing of epic proportions for Flynn to be able to return to baseball the same season, which is exactly what he did.
After returning to the game, Flynn appeared in 22 games (four starts) for Triple-A Omaha. He managed to strike out 50 batters in 50 innings and finished his minor league season with a 5.40 ERA. His 5-3 record and 9.00 K/9 were both promising, but Flynn struggled with his command for the entire two and a half months while in AAA. Desperate for some bullpen help, the Royals called Flynn up on August 28. In a 12-0 loss to the Rays, Flynn tossed 2.1 innings, allowing three hits and an earned run. It wasn’t the season debut he wanted to have, but it was the only opportunity he would receive all season. The Royals soon sent Flynn to the disabled list with a groin strain and he did not throw another pitch – in the MLB or MiLB – in 2017.
What can we expect in 2018?
Here are the Steamer projections for Brian Flynn’s 2018 season:
- 40 appearances
- 40 innings pitched
- 4.06 ERA
- 36 K
Because Flynn is heading into 2018 completely healthy, these projections are definitely realistic. When comparing them to his 50 innings pitched, 50 strikeouts and 5.40 ERA in AAA last season, Steamer believes Flynn will experience a resurgence of sorts in 2017. I believe Brian Flynn will absolutely benefit from another offseason of training and more distance between him and his injury. Flynn managed to contribute 55.1 innings in 2016 in a bullpen that still had Luke Hochevar (when healthy) and Wade Davis, but I’m going to estimate ever-so-slightly under 40 innings in 2018. I believe he will appear fewer than 40 times as well. I’m going to be conservative and say Flynn will strike out fewer than 36 batters but will have an ERA lower than 4.06.
If Brian Flynn can return to his 2016 self, my predictions will look foolish. With such a high chance of potential turnover in the bullpen, it’s possible he could pitch a lot more than 40 innings. I’m not banking on him becoming dominant again, though. No, he’s not old. No, he doesn’t have elbow problems. If his ERA sits somewhere between 3.50-3.75 in 2018, I’ll be happy. I hope he proves myself and all of the other doubters wrong this season.
What do you think, Royals fans? Will Flynn return to his old self? Will his injury linger in the back of his mind all season? Are there not enough open spots in the bullpen? Let us know what YOU think!