The KC Royals have plenty of talent working through their system, but one arm finally found a way to progress and give the team some good innings.
It has been a difficult season for many. With the shortened season and a no real spring training to prepare, the fates of most were up in the air once the 2020 season began. For the KC Royals, it seemed as though injuries were more common than in some seasons, and a few players were held back due to COVID.
Through the struggle and injuries, though, something snapped into place for the Royals; the bullpen. It was expected that pitching struggles would continue into 2020 as they had been at the forefront in Kansas City for the past few seasons.
Apparently, someone forgot to tell this to the relievers. If a game was close, it was typically not the fault of the relievers if the Royals lost. So many of the young arms came through, and with the help of some veterans, showed that they can be a difference-maker.
One pitcher in particular that had success was Kyle Zimmer.
Zimmer has an interesting story in Kansas City. He was drafted 5th overall in the 2012 draft by the Royals. He had a good start in the minor leagues but inconsistency and injury caused him to struggle and he saw his chances of making it to the majors growing smaller and smaller.
Finally, during the 2019 season, Zimmer go his shot. Unfortunately, it was not everything he had hoped it would be. Zimmer managed 18.1 innings, with an ERA of 10.80, FIP of 4.57, and walked 9.3 batters per 9 as opposed to striking out only 8.8 per 9. It was back to the drawing board.
Zimmer got another chance in 2020 though. The Royals have obviously seen something in him that has caused them to not want to give up. Finally, it paid off.
Zimmer is now on the injured list to end the season, but he was able to get some work in. Zimmer pitched 23.0 innings in 2020 and held his ERA at 1.57, FIP at 2.36, and dropped his walks per 9 to 3.9 and strikeouts per 9 up to 10.2. Zimmer didn’t give up a single home run, and only allowed 4 runs over his 23 innings.
Zimmer’s two major league stat lines almost look as if they show 2 different players. The player from 2020 is the pitcher that the Royals have been waiting for.
They say hard work pays off, and for Kyle Zimmer, it finally has. There are likely still things he hopes to work on, and he continues to struggle with injury. Hopefully with time, though, he will be able to continue his progress and continue to be the pitcher the Royals knew he could be.
Kyle Zimmer has shown that he has the skills to make it in the majors. Now, he has to prove that he can maintain success from year to year.