KC Royals reliever Kyle Zimmer receiving an extra option not only takes some pressure off him, but could also factor into in this year’s bullpen.
Per MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan, KC Royals reliever Kyle Zimmer has received another option (the ability for the team to send him down to the minor leagues) due to his lengthy injury history. He’s missed a lot of time in the minors that could have helped accelerate his path to the majors, so the MLB has given him another safety net to fall back on.
Zimmer, who debuted last season, pitched in 15 games. Posting a 10.80 ERA in 18.1 innings, though, he struggled immensely. He was much better with AAA Omaha, as his ERA (4.33) and strikeouts (52) were both reasons why. The former first-round pick from 2012 has had a difficult experience over the years with various injuries so although the 2019 season didn’t unfold how he wanted it to, getting to the Royals was a huge milestone.
With that said, Zimmer is now 28 years old. Time is running out for him to prove he can withstand a major league season and be productive while doing so. By awarding the team another option for him, it takes a bit of pressure off him to log a ton of MLB innings if he isn’t ready. On the other hand, demoting him isn’t ideal and the Royals should do everything in their power to keep him on the roster.
If Zimmer is to pitch in Omaha for any stretch of the season, hopefully it is short-lived. 2020 is all about figuring out who belongs in the long-term puzzle for the KC Royals and if Zimmer is spending a lot of his season pitching against the farm system, that won’t help answer any questions.
This could factor into how Mike Matheny constructs his bullpen, though. In the event that Zimmer struggles in spring training or (knock on wood for like three hours) suffers an injury, his spot could be given to someone else. Trevor Rosenthal and Greg Holland have generated a lot of buzz and very well could both make the Opening Day roster, but this creates a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Kyle Zimmer’s clock is ticking. He knows it, the fans know it and the KC Royals know it. This year is huge for a bullpen that was horrible a season ago. With fans and the team expecting to contend again in the near future, Zimmer will have to prove this season that he belongs in Royal blue for years to come.
If not, expect the team to end that experiment after the season and move on. It’s been a long time coming for both Zimmer and the Royals, so it would be good to see both sides make positive strides in 2020.