KC Royals Injury Update: Kris Bubic remains on track for midseason return

The lefty starter hasn't pitching in Kansas City this season, but his rehab appearances offer hope.
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The KC Royals starting rotation has been among MLB's best throughout the year, with varying levels of performance. The consistent success of this rotation, from Seth Lugo to Alec Marsh, has significantly contributed to Kansas City's resurgence. There is no reason to clamor for more arms in the starting rotation, but one rehabbing starter may make his return sooner rather than later.

The KC Royals could have Kris Bubic back sooner than expected.

Left-handed pitcher Kris Bubic started the season down in Surprise, Arizona, while many of his teammates departed for the season's start. The lefty is now three starts into his rehab assignment, making three starts in the Arizona Complex League. He is cruising through limited action there, only allowing one run in 3⅓ innings.

His rehab assignment is still fairly new, but Bubic's rehab couldn't be going much better. There haven't been any setbacks, like what Royals fans saw with Jake Brentz last year or erratic pitching from the mound. Bubic has only two walks to eight strikeouts this year, an acceptable ratio. He doesn't have any wild pitches either, for what it is worth. Watching his starts isn't the most accessible baseball game out there, but his eventual promotion should offer more insight.

Bubic, who landed on the 60-day IL on Feb. 23, is eligible to return on May 27. However, he does have 30 days to carry out his rehab assignment, which officially began on May 7. Kansas City will have to decide Bubic's future no later than June 6, ranging from bringing him back to the 26-man roster, keeping him in the minors, or putting him back on the shelf in a worst-case scenario.

The California native was seemingly primed for a breakout season in Kansas City before undergoing Tommy John surgery in April 2023. While his 0-2 record and 3.94 ERA through three starts wasn't impressive, what he could control was. He walked only two batters in 16 innings, striking out 16 in that span. A fledgling slider was the secret to his success, holding opponents to a .182 batting average and five strikeouts on that pitch alone.

Bubic's return will certainly induce some tough decisions, if he is ready for his MLB return. The Royals will have to decide whether to insert him back into the rotation or ease him back in through the bullpen. Post-Tommy John surgery, pitchers like Bubic are never a certainty, requiring a more cautious approach. Either way, Bubic's current performance is promising and creates a Royals problem in all the best ways.

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