St. Louis Cardinals: Kwang-hyun Kim is close to returning

The St. Louis Cardinals are one step closer to having Kwang-hyun Kim return, as he is scheduled to make a full start in a simulated game on Sunday.

The return of Kwang-hyun Kim might be near.

Kim recently threw a simulated game and the reports from the game were positive. He threw five innings and 68 pitches and his stuff looked crisp. Before the St. Louis Cardinals call him back up, however, they needed to ramp him up in another simulated game — and the team has scheduled that next appearance for Sunday, manager Mike Shildt told reporters, including Jeff Jones of the Belleville News.

Kim will throw an 85-90 pitch outing and if all goes well, he would be in line to return to the rotation for his next start. He would take the place of Daniel Ponce de Leon in the rotation, bringing the Cardinals one step closer to having their scheduled Opening Day rotation, with only Miles Mikolas (shoulder) missing from the group.

It is a promising development for the Cardinals and considering they are aggressively ramping up from his first start, suggests that he is 100 percent healthy and on the doorstep of returning to the rotation. Having Kim, a left-handed pitcher, return to the rotation would provide a much-needed different look compared to the right-handed heavy rotation currently in place with Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright and Carlos Martinez, among others.

Kim’s addition to the rotation would allow the Cardinals to move Ponce de Leon back to the bullpen. It would give them another multi-inning reliever and give them even more depth in a season in which depth has never been more important.

But first, Kim has to return to the rotation. Based on the latest update, it appears imminent — provided everything goes well on Sunday.