Chris Young is the front-runner for the Royals’ final rotation spot, but Kansas City has a stock of pitchers who can challenge, or eventually overtake him, at some point this season.
The spring has been something of a streaming strategy in a fantasy league when it comes to Royals’ starters. Ian Kennedy, Edinson Volquez and Yordano Ventura are going to be in the rotation and if Kris Medlan stays healthy, Kansas City won’t pass up his ceiling either.
But for the Royals and Young, it’s a safe choice, but maybe not a permanent one. Young has done himself no favors this spring, surrendering five runs in four innings and giving up 10 base runners in the process so far. Young, 36-years-old, surprised many with 3.06 ball in 123.1 innings in 2015, but is unlikely to hold up an entire season and many peripherals imply he may not run into the same fortune in 2016.
If this is the case, Kansas City could turn to these options:
Kyle Zimmer: The 24-year-old was recently optioned to AAA and has faced career arm issues. He has posted a 3.28 ERA and is still young, already having logged over 60 innings in AA. It’s a long shot, but if Zimmer can get healthy, he could be a fresh arm to make an impact sometime later in the season.
Dillon Gee: Gee was recently added to the 40 man roster so the Royals could avoid his opt out clause, but it’s unlikely he breaks camp in the rotation. Gee may very likely head to the Royals’ bullpen so they can maintain his depth, with the option to join a rotation in case of injury. It’s unlikely he is a mainstay in the rotation this season barring major injuries.Gee has surrendered one run in his first five innings this spring.
Chien-Ming Wang: Similar situation to Gee, minus the pressure to be added to the 40 man. Unlike Gee, Wang is currently throwing in the mid 90’s with his fastball, a significant recovery from the high 80’s last season. The former Yankee has worked with Ron Wolforth, who was responsible for turning around Scott Kazmir‘s injury plagued career. Wang could make a bullpen candidate if he continues throwing this hard, or can be AAA depth for the rotation. Wang has surrendered one run in six innings and struck out five this spring.
Danny Duffy: Duffy was decent for the Royals last season, posting a 4.08 ERA in 24 starts and a few relief appearances last season. At 27-years-old, Duffy is still young but he has been hammered this spring. The former third round draft pick has surrendered six runs in six innings and yielded 12 base runners this spring, striking out just two in the process. Duff is likely a long shot to pass Young or Medlan, but could find himself in a similar situation as last year, switching between the rotation and bullpen throughout the year in 2016.