Can starter Brad Keller and the KC Royals solve the puzzle he has become?
Brad Keller can be excellent, and he can be bad. There isn’t much middle ground for the starting pitcher who, assuming he recovers completely from the lat strain that forced a premature end to his 2021 season, will be striving to bounce back from a terrible campaign when spring camp opens.
Keller went 8-12, 5.39 this season, a far cry from the 5-3, 2.47 he posted in 2020. But the downturn fit the puzzling pattern of Keller’s four-year Kansas City tenure—he was good in 2018 (9-6, 3.08), not so good in 2019 (7-14, 4.19), then put in another excellent effort in 2020 only to follow it with an inferior season this year.
He won the club’s Pitcher of the Year award for both his better seasons.
It is inconsistency that creates the odd-year headache that is Keller. Knowing which Keller will show up for any given start is a mystery, one which he and the KC Royals need to solve. The righthander at his best can be the ace of a promising Kansas City starting rotation; at his worst, he won’t measure up to a starting role as the club’s hot pitching prospects progress and mature.
And, just as he shouldn’t receive a contract extension now, he won’t until he finds more consistency.
The Royals have at least three offseason headaches to cure themselves of this winter.