The season has just begun and the Royals already have a disaster brewing in the bullpen. Again.
The Royals have yet to escape a game where the bullpen hasn’t given up a run. Last night was no exception, taking a 4-3 lead into the 9th, and ended up losing the game in the tenth. Currently the bullpen has given up 10 runs in 13 1/3 innings of work. All told that leads to a 6.75 ERA (Update, it is now 7.57 after today’s debacle). With a bright spot shining on our starting rotation early in the year, having a bullpen that hemorrhages runs could be a disaster. So who is there to plug this leak? For many the answer is becoming Kyle Zimmer. But I, for one, am not on that wagon….yet.
Zimmer has been a quality pitcher throughout the minor leagues, with eye popping strikeout rates, low ERA’s and lights out stuff. He has just never been able to stay healthy. This year he seems healthy, he is pitching great, and made his first ever appearance in the MLB. Things are looking up. But therein lies the problem.
Zimmer has exactly one major league inning under his belt. It was a fine performance, striking out two in a scoreless frame. But it was a low leverage situation as there was a three run deficit, and no real pressure…Well minus the pressure of it being your first major league inning after years in the minors being what many called a colossal bust of a first round pick.
So why is he on the big league club and not in AAA working as a closer? The simple answer is, he has shown he can get minor leaguers out. Now he has to show he can get Major League hitters out. GMDM wants to see what he will do in the pros.
My expectation is he will be in this role for the next few games. If he does well, they will give him more high leverage situations. If he keeps passing the tests and pitches as well as he has since his return in Surprise, I would imagine he may be getting a chance to close come June. And this would be a good thing for the Royals.
All accounts say his stuff could be premier back of the bullpen stuff. Since he was released last season, his current contract is cheap as well. If this plan pans out, the Royals could have a very inexpensive good closer for a long time.
And as you may have noticed from the first week, a good closer means everything to a major league club. But let’s not rush him, and allow for development over the course of the year. even though we are going to have to suffer through this dumpster fire of a bullpen for a couple more weeks. I would anticipate a substantial improvement come the All-Star Break.
So boo and yell all you can, as GMDM deserves after assembling this pen. But also realize there may be a new wave of guys coming up that can right the ship and be here for a while.