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Royals SP Kris Bubic set to undergo Tommy John surgery

We have the latest on Kris Bubic and when he could return to the Royals rotation in 2024.

Kris Bubic of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the San Francisco Giants in the bottom of the first inning at Oracle Park on April 09, 2023 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

We feared the worst as Kris Bubic was diagnosed with the dreaded flexor tendon strain last week, and sure enough, that’s come to pass: The Kansas City Royals announced on Friday that the lefty will require Tommy John surgery and miss the remainder of the season.

The team hasn’t yet offered any sort of timetable for his return to the field, but some time after the All-Star break next year — if he can make it back in 2024 at all — would be the best-case scenario.

Bubic seemed as though he could be in for a breakout season before the injury, generating whiffs with a more explosive fastball and unveiling a new slider he developed over the offseason. That slider was the real difference-maker; it boasted a .182 batting average against and gave Bubic a weapon to use against lefties to go along with his always-effective changeup.

The lefty was roughed up by the Atlanta Braves in his last start, allowing five runs on 10 hits in five innings of work, but still boasted a 3.94 ERA that was more than a run and a half down from his 2022 mark.

The Royals have yet to announce who might take Bubic’s place in the rotation, and most of the team’s top pitching prospects are still in the low Minors. For now, Ryan Yarbrough — the former Tampa Bay Rays soft-tosser who’s been a bulk man out of the bullpen in Kansas City — is the most likely candidate.