Spring training is a time for evaluation and for players to prove what they can bring to the team. A few KC Royals have seen poor starts in 2020.
The first weekend of spring training games is complete and fans have gotten a decent look and some players, old and new, around the MLB. For KC Royals fans, while Saturday’s game was postponed, a good deal of pitchers made their appearances, some good and some bad.
Spring training is a chance for teams to fully evaluate the talent they have on the team, and see who will earn a spot on the opening day roster. In the Royals case, they have a lot of slimming down to do. With a massive number of pitchers in attendance this year, the team is making it obvious that they have to find a fix for the bullpen.
While there were no major singings during the offseason, the mix of veteran minor league signings and young prospects at camp make the competition fierce and any for any who fall short, the team will have to move on quickly.
To kick off spring training, there were two Royals pitchers who were already under the microscope and in their first appearances, neither looked all that smooth.
Eric Skoglund is likely a name familiar to fans, and one that often comes with thoughts of struggle. Skoglund impressed in his first major league appearance but has since fallen off and not produced as hoped. Mike Gillespie questioned whether Skoglunds time had run short a few months ago, and if he continues spring training as he started, he may have no time left.
Skoglund saw some time in Friday’s opener against the Rangers. The team had already seen solid innings from pitchers such as Jorge Lopez and Trevor Rosenthal and were hoping to continue holding their lead.
Unfortunately, Skoglund managed only to record two outs, giving up 3 hits, 3 runs, and walking 1 while he was at it. Not a good showing for his first spring training appearance. He still has time as it’s early, and another option according to FanGraphs, but after a few years of struggles including an 80 game suspension for PED’s, Skoglund may not get as many chances as some of the younger arms.
Another player who needs to prove what he has left this spring is Kyle Zimmer. Zimmer has been plagued with injuries and because of this was recently awarded an extra minor league option by the MLB. Still, he must show that he is improving.
Zimmer finally saw a bit of major league time in 2019, but struggled, walking 9.3 per 9 innings and holding an ERA of 10.80 over 18.1 innings. There were high hopes for Zimmer after battling back from injury but in his first spring training appearance of 2020, he looked uneasy.
Zimmer came into the game, like Skoglund, after some decent pitching performances. He was unable to continue the success though, recording only 2 outs and giving up 2 runs, on 2 hits while also walking 2.
Zimmer may be in a better position than Skoglund as he has not seen as much major league time and the Royals have invested a lot of time and patience into his recovery, but that doesn’t put him in the clear. If Zimmer continues to struggle throughout the spring, he will likely start the year in Omaha. If he is unable to show progress from there, it may be time for the team to move on.
It’s still early in the spring, and anything could happen. For players like Skoglund and Zimmer who are already on thin ice, though, the time to show up is now. So far, their starts are offering more concern than hope.