KC Royals: Daniel Lynch IV returns to action before 2023 ends

Kyle Rivas/GettyImages

The KC Royals 2023 season is hitting the single digits of remaining games. While fans have seen the last of players like Brady Singer, Freddy Fermin, and Brad Keller, one player returned to the mound in a surprising appearance.

KC Royals pitcher Daniel Lynch IV closes out his 2023 season on a good note.

The Royals sent starter Daniel Lynch IV on a rehab assignment to Triple-A Omaha on Sept. 21. Lynch had been on the 60-day injured list since Sept. 6 and the 15-day IL before that. A left shoulder strain has cost Lynch most of the 2023 season, limiting him to nine major league starts this season.

Lynch made his first minor league start since May 23 on Thursday, pitching two innings of scoreless baseball. It is not much, but still a decent return to the mound for the 26-year-old.

Lynch has not pitched in an MLB game since July 18, after just returning to the rotation on May 28. His adjustments led to better results when healthy, totaling four quality starts this season. His seven-inning shutout performance on June 20 was one of the best starts by a Royal this season. Unfortunately, the issues were clear in his July 18 start, when he gave up two home runs and six hits in five innings of work.

Lynch was likely one of the many players Kansas City expected to take a step forward in 2023 who failed to do so. While his return to the mound is encouraging, Royals fans should watch Lynch closely this offseason and into spring training. He is a polarizing player, one that looks like a reliable starter for some or replaceable arm for others. A two-pitch mix contributed to his best start this season, but that is not ideal for any long-term starter.

With pitchers like Johnathan Bowlan and Anthony Veneziano joining the major-league roster, Lynch's spot on the 2024 Royals squad is not a certainty. He has not met expectations, whether it be on-field production or health-related issues. He certainly has much to play for next spring.