4 other options the KC Royals should use before next Will Smith disaster

Scott Taetsch/GettyImages
4 of 4

Angel Zerpa

Don't look now, but Angel Zerpa has already matched his fWAR from 2023 to 2024. That's right, through two games and 1⅔ innings, Zerpa is already worth…

Flips through notes…

Ignores small samples…

.1 fWAR. Huzzah!

In all actuality, Zerpa starting in the MLB bullpen this season is a blessing in disguise. He made his first career start back in 2021 but hasn't carved out a full-time role since. The Royals have added more starting pitching since that debut, and the farm system has starters waiting in the wings. If Zerpa wants to stick at the MLB level, tuning his stuff to that of a high-leverage reliever is the way to go.

Has he already begun that transition? I can see a trend here. Zerpa, whether it be one inning or multiple, did not start any of his seven September 2023 appearances. He posted a 2.29 ERA (5 ER in 19.2 IP), 19 strikeouts, and only two walks in those games. That is exactly what I wanted from Zerpa, albeit two years and a rotational spot too late.

Now, he is still performing well in the Kansas City bullpen. He already has one hold to his name, facing seven batters and striking out two or allowing hits to three. Zerpa's performance against the Minnesota Twins had my blood pressure high when he allowed two baserunners to start the eighth inning. But, between a popout and two strikeouts, Zerpa got out of the inning without much damage.

That damage part is what Kansas City needs to fix now. Closing games don't have to be pretty. It is all about who ends the ninth inning on top. Zerpa hasn't given up runs yet in 2024, showing an ability to ignore a possible disaster and still do his job. He is not the ideal late-inning reliever, but Zerpa can still mold himself and his pitching arsenal to fit that role better.

More from Kings of Kauffman