KC Royals: 4 relievers who may not return next season

(Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports) /
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KC Royals, Tyler Zuber
(Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) /

Will we see this young righthanded reliever in Kansas City next season?

It didn’t take Tyler Zuber long to get to the majors. After the KC Royals picked him in the sixth round of the 2017 draft, he reported to the minors, pitched 16 times in Rookie ball and another three in Class A, and saved six games.

In 2018, he saved 18 games across Low and High-A. Impressed, the Royals worked him in High-A and Double-A the next season, and he saved 21 games and posted a 1.79 ERA.

Seeing what they wanted and needed to from Zuber, the Royals promoted him to the majors last season, and he appeared in 23 games and struck out 30 in 22 innings (12.3 SO9). But the 20 walks and 10 earned runs he gave up in those 22 frames strongly suggested he needed more work in the minors.

That still seems to be the case.

Kansas City has optioned Zuber four times this season (most recently Sept. 20), which isn’t surprising given his 0-3, 5.81 record in 30 games. Seasoning is something he can use, so the Royals should at least start him at Omaha next year.

But whether he can break back into the big league bullpen sometime in 2022 is a good question. Unless the Royals trade better relievers, the Opening Day pen will be crowded—Scott Barlow, Josh Staumont, Jake Brentz, Domingo Tapia, Joel Payamps, and impressive newcomer Dylan Coleman are probably all locks; expect the club to bring back Jesse Hahn and perhaps Richard Lovelady from injury, and to give Jake Newberry another shot.

Jakob Junis is a long relief candidate, and KC might choose to work Jackson Kowar out of the bullpen until he’s ready to start regularly. Gabe Speier is another possibility. Even Ervin Santana might return if his veteran leadership and ability to eat long relief innings are still wanted.

Next. Prospect fuels second 2021 farm title. dark

With the KC Royals needing to make bullpen changes, Greg Holland, Wade Davis, Kyle Zimmer and Tyler Zuber are four relievers who may not return. There could, of course, be more we won’t see in 2022.