Brad Keller has worn nothing other than a KC Royals uniform throughout his major league career and, after a performance like last Saturday’s, when he pitched six innings allowing only two hits, no runs and a walk, and struck out five, it’s safe to assume the Royals and their fans hope he keeps it up and never dons any other colors but Royal Blue.
And after opening their four-game series against Detroit with a 4-2 loss Thursday night—their fourth straight defeat—the Royals need Keller to repeat that performance when he faces the Tigers tonight.
Game time is set for 7:10 p.m. with Keller scheduled to face Tiger lefthander Tarik Skubal (0-1, 9.00 ERA) on Major League Baseball’s Jackie Robinson Day.
Can Keller get Kansas City back on track?
Brad Keller needs to be the good Brad Keller for the KC Royals tonight.
Keller made his big league debut on Opening Day 2018 when he pitched a scoreless inning against the White Sox, then went on to a 9-6, 3.08 ERA rookie season and won the Royals’ Pitcher of the Year award. He slumped to 7-14, 4.19 in 2019, but rebounded in the truncated 2020 season by going 5-3 with a career-best 2.47 ERA. He also threw his first complete game and shutout, a five-hit, one-walk effort against Pittsburgh, and once again was named KC’s Pitcher of the Year.
Unfortunately, Keller struggled to a dismal 8-12, 5.39 ERA season last year.
Kansas City fans can’t be blamed for any anxiety and trepidation they may have felt before Keller took the mound for his first start of the season last Saturday following his less than impressive 2021 campaign. Keller had given them every reason to be worried and had a shaky (albeit brief) 2022 spring, giving up eight runs in 7.1 innings.
But Keller looked sharp against Cleveland last week in his first (and only) 2022 appearance and did much to lessen the doubts. Without his stellar pitching, Kansas City’s 1-0, 10-inning win over the Guardians might not have happened.
Now, with the Royals unfortunately laying claim to a 2-4 record after the first full week of the season, Keller needs to come out this evening, look like he did Saturday, and show that day was more of a return to form than just a flash in the pan.
If he does that, the Royals might be close to the right track.
Let’s hope the Brad Keller we see tonight is the Brad Keller we saw Saturday.