The starting rotation just isn’t improving for the KC Royals this season.
That the Kansas City rotation isn’t stellar is no secret. After Thursday’s loss, Royals starters have the second highest American League ERA (5.12), and have surrendered the third most runs and sixth most hits in the AL. Their 1.48 WHIP and .273 BAA are both the second worst in the league.
Only Danny Duffy has been consistently good when he’s pitched, and Mike Minor’s recent starts have, combined with the month Duffy missed on the Injured List, elevated him to staff leader status at 6-4.
The rest of the rotation, though, isn’t good enough to support any serious run at even a Wild Card spot. Its shortcomings were evident again Thursday when KC’s chosen starter once again put the club in an early hole. Brad Keller, pitching more like the Keller of 2019 (7-14, 4.19) than the Keller who won the team’s Pitcher of the Year awards the seasons before and after that, gave up a solo home run to Aaron Judge, the second Yankee batter of the game, and singles to the next two hitters before getting the second out, then allowed a one-run single to Rougned Odor.
So it was that Odor, a .196 hitter coming into the game, provided New York with all the runs it would require before the first inning was even over.
Judge tagged Keller for a run on a single in the second, and Luke Voit homered off him in the third. In his five innings, Keller surrendered nine hits, four runs, two homers and four walks. He’s 6-8 with an unsightly 6.39 ERA; his eight American League losses trail only former Royals Matt Harvey and Jorge Lopez, who have nine apiece for Baltimore.
Duffy was good for the two innings the Royals allowed him to pitch Wednesday— pitching his first game since May 12, he struck out four and didn’t give up a run. But for purposes of evaluating the KC rotation, Duffy’s two innings don’t count as a start.
The 3.2 frames Brady Singer threw in Tuesday night’s opener do, however. He struck out five but struggled, giving up a first-inning homer to Voit, another to Kyle Higashioka in the second, and walking the bases loaded in the fourth. He walked five in all.
KC eventually won, but Singer didn’t figure in the decision. He’s 3-5, 4.77 and has given up 32 runs in the first four innings of his 15 starts.
The Royals begin a three-game series at Texas tonight with Minor on the mound. Hopefully, he’ll jump start this troubled rota.