Will Josh Taylor be the last KC Royals lefty left standing?

Sometimes, being the only choice is the same thing as the best choice.
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Welcome back to Kings of Kauffman's 2024 KC Royals player projection series. Over the next few weeks, we'll be reviewing how various Royals performed last year and predicting how they might fare this season. Let's look at pitcher Josh Taylor.

If you want a positive spin on Josh Taylor's first season with the KC Royals, think about Adalberto Mondesi. The Royals traded away their former top prospect and a player to be named later for Taylor back on Jan. 24, 2023. Taylor had far from a banner year in Kansas City, but at least he played a game unlike the former Royals shortstop. But, that was then and this is now.

Taylor only pitched in 17 2/3 innings last season with the Royals, marking his first MLB action since Sept. 22, 2021. He had a very solid season with the Boston Red Sox, but a lower back strain ended it early and kept him out for the entire 2022 campaign. His return to the mound offered some good signs with plenty of negative ones as well.

Taylor's season once again ended early, this time due to a shoulder injury. The royals transferred him to the 15-day IL with left shoulder impingement syndrome. Fast forward to June 2023, when Taylor underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk in his lower back. Now, Taylor is back and active for Kansas City down in Surprise, Arizona. How could the lefty perform in 2024?

How FanGraphs projects he will perform for KC Royals

FanGraphs (Depth Charts) projects a healthy year for Taylor, projecting 48 appearances for 48 innings in 2024. The predicted 4.38 ERA and 4.27 FIP are notable improvements, making him a slightly above-replacement player.

How Josh Taylor will actually perform

Let's get this straight; Taylor's 2024 impact is all tied to his health. With only 17 games since 2021, he doesn't have a lengthy track record to point back to. His 2019 and 2021 seasons offer hope, but Taylor hasn't been great outside of those seasons.

Kansas City needs to evaluate if Taylor is 100% healthy and ready for Opening Day. He remains in the Royals' probable pitching plans through Spring Training, appearing in six games as of Mar. 13. His stats say he is just fine, with a 1.50 ERA and .833 WHIP across six innings. But only Kansas City knows how ready Taylor is.

I predict that Taylor will begin 2024 with the major-league club, serving as the secondary lefty behind Will Smith. He should have a short leash, whether it be healthwise or productivity. Kansas City does have some intriguing lefties making a bullpen push right now, but Taylor's experience if healthy is valuable to this team.

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