KC Royals play the waiting game (again) with Kyle Wright

The newly acquired hurler is not the first injured pitcher the Royals have gambled on.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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Could Wright's Royals tenure mirror Kris Medlen?

Kris Medlen missed all of the 2014 season with his second Tommy John surgery, and the Royals signed him the following offseason. They were coming off their first postseason appearance in nearly three decades, and after making a surprise run to the World Series, they hoped Medlen would add depth to the pitching staff. But they knew patience was the key.

Unlike Wright, Medlen did not miss his entire first season in Kansas City. He made his first appearance of 2015 on July 20 in relief, and his first start on August 24 against Baltimore at the K. (I was there!) He pitched well in 2015, splitting time between the starting rotation and the bullpen as needed, much as he had during his Atlanta tenure.

He finished the 225 season with a 6-2 record and 4.01 ERA in 15 appearances (eight starts), totaling 58.1 innings pitched, 40 strikeouts, and a 1.269 WHIP. Medlen also pitched in one ALCS game and one World Series game during the Royals' run to a championship, notching a 3.60 ERA in six innings pitched, with eight strikeouts and one walk. The Royals won both games in which he appeared. Unfortunately, the injury bug returned in 2016, costing Medlen his chance at a bigger role, and the Royals declined his option in 2017.

Medlen's contribution to a Royals championship made his signing worth it, even if the sum total was not spectacular. But Medlen was never expected to be an ace like Wright. With the exception of 2013, when he started 31 out his 32 appearances with the Braves, Medlen split his time as starter and reliever the whole time he was in Atlanta. Yet, he was far more consistent than Wright during his Braves tenure.

Pitching in at least 30 games from 2009-10 and 2012-13 — he missed all of 2011 with his first Tommy John surgery — Medlen never posted an ERA higher than 4.26, and even that number was an outlier. His 2012 season was particularly impressive. Medlen went 10-1 with a 1.57 ERA in 50 games (12 starts), totaling 138 innings pitched, 120 strikeouts, and a 0.913 WHIP. He also finished 20th in the NL MVP race, which isn't too shabby for a swingman.