Why this pitcher is more important than ever to the KC Royals

Daniel Lynch IV has a big job to do for Kansas City.
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The Royals have always had reasons to believe in Daniel Lynch IV. They grabbed him with the 34th overall selection of the 2018 amateur draft, a compensation pick sandwiched between Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar (18th and 33rd) and Kris Bubic (40th); he pitched well in the minors before the club made him part of its starting rotation in 2021; and, despite a rough 2022 season when he lost 13 times, he remained an important part of the Royals' future plans even after shoulder issues ended his 2023 campaign in mid-July.

Fortunately, Lynch is pitching again and all looks well. He's been up from Triple-A Omaha, where he's 4-0, twice this season, and in three games with the Royals — two starts and a late-inning relief appearance — has a 1.50 ERA and 0.750 WHIP over 12 innings. His starts have lasted five innings each and resulted in only two runs.

Nevertheless, Lynch's last Royals stint didn't last long. Summoned to the majors last Thursday, he threw five frames against Minnesota and left with a lead, but the club's shaky bullpen blew it and deprived him of the win. He was back in Triple-A the next day, rendering him presumptively ineligible to return for at least 15 days under baseball's roster restrictions

But he's back and headed for a probable late-week road start against Cleveland or Seattle.

Daniel Lynch IV is taking Michael Wacha's spot on the Royals' roster

The foot fracture Michael Wacha suffered late last week, and which could keep him on the Injured list for at least a few weeks, allowed the Royals to recall Lynch earlier than the otherwise-applicable 15 day period. They made that move before Sunday's comeback victory over San Diego.

So it is that Lynch is more important to these Royals than he's ever been.

Why? Because he's replacing Wacha who, after a bumpy start, became one of the club's best offseason acquisitions by going 3-2 in six May starts marred only by the seven runs he gave Texas in his first appearance of the month. Wacha was clearly settling into a key role for the Royals.

Lynch, then, must continue to pitch well, especially considering the Royals are preparing to go head-to-head with the Guardians, the first-place American League Central team they trail by only four games, and then three other first-place teams — the Mariners, Yankees and Dodgers — in an uninterrupted 13-day span that begins Tuesday in Cleveland.

Look for Lynch to start at least twice, and possibly three times, before that tough stretch concludes. He'll need to be at the top of his game each time.

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