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Royals demote Kyle Zimmer

Glenn Sparkman is called up.

Kyle Zimmer #45 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch in the spring training game against the Oakland Athletics at HoHoKam Stadium on February 24, 2019 in Mesa, Arizona. Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

The Royals have optioned pitcher Kyle Zimmer to AAA Omaha and have recalled pitcher Glenn Sparkman. Zimmer is a former first-round pick who impressed in spring training and made the Opening Day roster. He made his Major League debut this season and was impressive in his first outing against the White Sox on March 31 with a scoreless inning, but struggled with his command in his second outing, walking three straight hitters against the Tigers. He pitched a scoreless innings in his third outing, but walked two and gave up a hit.

Sparkman is a 26-year old right-hander who pitched 38 13 innings with the Royals last year with a 4.46 ERA and 4.02 FIP with 27 strikeouts and 15 walks. He pitched a scoreless inning on Saturday for Omaha, his only outing of the season.

The Royals will need a fifth starter to join the rotation for their game Wednesday against the Mariners. Sparkman has starting experience, making three starts for the Royals last year, but it seems unlikely the Royals would add a starter to the roster until they need to on Wednesday, unless Sparkman joins the pen and Scott Barlow moves from the bullpen to the rotation. Heath Fillmyer and Conner Greene are also candidates to make the start Wednesday, or the Royals could add someone from outside the organization, as their 40-man roster is currently at 39.

Zimmer’s comeback suffers a temporary setback but he should be back before too long. He missed all of last season with injury and hasn’t had a ton of minor league experience due to injuries, so it probably isn’t a bad thing to see him get some more experience under his belt at the minor league level. Demoting Zimmer makes the bullpen less exciting with a cast of retreads and never-weres that don’t seem likely to make it through the rebuild, but the long-term development of Zimmer should take priority over wins this April.

As for who starts Wednesday? Well, stay tuned.