The KC Royals saw plenty of pitching prospects in 2020 and while there were mixed stats for many, some of them grew throughout the season.
The youth movement for the KC Royals came on strong in 2020 and plenty of young players got their shot. Some faired better than others and some only saw a few innings of work, but it’s still a positive to see the Royals embracing their young talent and looking to where they may stand in the future.
One pitcher that got his chance during the 2020 season is Tyler Zuber. Zuber is only 25, giving him plenty of time to grow. Zuber was drafted by the Royals in the 2017 draft from Arkansas State University and has put up good numbers in the minors as he has made his way through.
He finished the 2019 season at AA Northwest Arkansas where he held an ERA of 2.42 over 26.0 innings of relief. He Struck out 10.4 per 9, while walking only 1.7 per 9.
Zuber made the jump to the majors in 2020 as the Royals obviously saw something they liked. He showed success at each level he pitched at and had good experience as a reliever and closing games. The Royals needed bullpen help, and Zuber was a good internal option.
He started the season well, with only one really shaky game, but continued to see isolated struggles throughout the season. Zuber ended the season with an ERA of 4.09 over 22.0 innings, striking out a good 30 batters, but also walking 20.
Zuber put up decent numbers considering the amount of walks he allowed, but a breakdown of his month to month stats show that Zuber may have just needed time to adjust.
July brought only 5.0 innings pitched, but also a monthly ERA of 5.40 with 3 strikeouts, 3 walks, and 3 earned runs. Nothing too surprising for a pitcher adjusting to the majors.
August, unfortunately, saw even more issues and walks. Though he had some decent outings, Zuber allowed 6 earned runs over 7.2 innings pitched for a monthly ERA of 7.04, striking out only 9 while allowing 10 walks.
Zuber’s biggest issue was his command. While he had multiple games with walks that didn’t result in runs scored, the free passes eventually caught up to him. Luckily, September showed something better.
In September, Zuber pitched 9.1 innings and held his monthly ERA to just 0.96, allowing only one earned run. While he still saw more walks than desired at 7, he also found the strike zone more often, striking out 18 batters over his 9.1 innings.
To start the season, Zuber showed the obvious growing pains of a AA pitcher trying to move into a major league bullpen. By the end of the season, he showed an ability to adapt.
The Royal’s and Mike Matheny‘s confidence in Zuber was well placed. He did as well as can be expected of a minor league player making the jump and likely secured a place in the future bullpen for Kansas City.
Zuber’s come back from a rough August and turnaround in September speak to the ability that he has and he should be able to continue to work on his control and keep the walks to a minimum.
Zuber has some work to do, but for now, he looks to be a good piece of the puzzle the Royals need to get back to contention.
Tyler Zuber struggled through his first 2 months but found a way to adapt to major league hitting and had a good September.