KC Royals: Brad Keller is stellar once again in win over Rays

Brad Keller (Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
Brad Keller (Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) /

The start of the 2021 season was rough for Brad Keller. The supposed ace of the KC Royals staff didn’t make it out of the second inning in his first game and didn’t reach the fifth inning until his third. Things seemed to calm for a moment, only for the young starter to find struggle again.

The KC Royals, though, seemed content with keeping Keller on the mound and letting him figure things out. Thankfully, he seems to finally be getting back on track.

Keller got his 10th start of the season on Tuesday night, going up against a Rays team that had won their last 11 games. Luckily, it was time for them to break that streak. Behind a great performance from Keller, the Royals won 2-1.

Keller on the night pitched seven innings, threw 95 pitches (64 strikes), walked four, allowed one run, and struck out seven. This was an important outing for Keller, and hopefully a turning point for him.

Keller needs to put his start to the season behind him and build on what he has done in May. In April, Keller pitched 18 innings (five starts) and allowed 18 runs, walking 11, striking out 13, and sitting his ERA at 9.00.

May looks completely different, though. Over 27.2 innings (five starts), Keller has only given up 11 runs, walked 10, struck out 27, and holds a monthly ERA of 3.50 (5.72 season ERA). He has also managed at least five innings in two games, six in one, and seven in his most recent. He only went over five in two starts in April.

Things are starting to look right again for the young pitcher and the KC Royals need consistency from Keller to continue winning if they want to have a chance at contention.

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Mondesi gets a pair of hits in his first game back with the KC Royals

Another bright spot in the win against the Rays was seeing KC Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi back in the lineup. Mondesi has been out for the season so far dealing with injury. Finally, he is making his return.

He managed two hits last night and will hopefully pick up where he left off last season, blasting the ball, stealing bases, and driving in runs. Mondesi is an important piece to have in the lineup. Even if he struggles at times with hitting, his defense up the middle was missed and goes a long way to keep the KC Royals in tight games.

A couple of other KC Royals added hits last night, such as Whit Merrifield, Michael A. Taylor, and Cam Gallagher. Plus, Carlos Santana and Salvador Perez each added a hit and an RBI, including Santana’s 10th home run of the season.

The KC Royals bullpen continues to see positives in its young arms

Backing up Keller last night was Jake Brentz and Kyle Zimmer. Brentz came in for the eighth and got the first out of the ninth, striking out two and not allowing any hits or walks. Zimmer followed him up for the final two outs of the night, walking one but not allowing any other base runners.

Both relievers continue to hold their ERA under 3.00 and give the Royals important consistency in the bullpen.

The Royals see the Rays two more times before moving onto the Twins for a three-game series. A win in tonight’s game (5/26) will be important for the Royals, not only securing them the series win but also putting them one game over .500.

With only a few games left in the month, the KC Royals have a good chance to be at or over .500 to start June, something they must do if they plan to compete at the end of the season. Thankfully, it seems things are starting to heat up again in Kansas City.

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The KC Royals ended the Rays 11 game win streak to get back to .500. Tonight, they will match up again with Mike Minor on the mound.