While not yet official, it appears as though the Cincinnati Reds have signed former Kansas City Royals pitcher Kyle Zimmer to a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training. Can pitching coach Derek Johnson and help Zimmer return to form?
Zimmer is a former first-round pick, and we know that the Reds love reclamation projects. Zimmer is still pre-arbitration eligible and has a minor league option remaining. If DJ feels as though Zimmer has anything left in the tank, the Reds should add the right-hander to the 40-man roster.
The Reds took a flier on Kyle Zimmer returning to form.
Kyle Zimmer had a shaky start to his major league career, but showed great promise during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. In 16 games covering 23 innings of work, Zimmer owned a 10.17 K/9, a 28.6% strikeout-rate, and an ERA of 1.57.
Zimmer, however, struggled to maintain that standard last season. The 30-year-old made 52 appearances out of the Royals bullpen and saw his strikeout-rate take a tumble while the walks piled up. Zimmer posted a 20.6% K-rate in 2021, but also had a 13.3% walk-rate. His K-BB% dropped from 17.6% in 2020 to 7.2% last season.
Zimmer has all the tools necessary, and prior to the All-Star break, he owned a 2.83 ERA and 3.86 FIP. But a 19 inning-stretch from July 10th through the end of the 2021 season saw Zimmer put up a dreadful ERA of 8.53. Zimmer's 13 punch outs during that span were the exact same as the number of free passes he issued. Ouch!
But, if there's one coach out there who can help, it's Cincinnati's pitching coach Derek Johnson. We've seen DJ resurrect the careers of Sonny Gray and Wade Miley, and help mentor young arms like Art Warren, Tony Santillan, and Vladimir Gutierrez.
Perhaps Johnson can work some similar magic with Zimmer. If so, the Cincinnati Reds could have a nice weapon in the bullpen for the 2022 season. The velocity is still there, as Zimmer was averaging better than 94-MPH on his fastball over the last two seasons.