KC Royals: Brad Keller needs to be better Sunday

(Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images) /

Brad Keller’s first few starts for the KC Royals this season suggested he was the club’s best starter, even better than veteran Zack Greinke who, despite not getting any wins, was as stingy with runs with opponents as they were with his teammates.

I’ve praised Keller before and even proclaimed him to be the team’s early ace.

So, much to my chagrin, Keller’s last few starts have me eating crow. And I don’t like crow. And to make matters worse, there is even talk of Keller being a trade candidate.

So it is that, considering his recent troubles and what is sure to be an increase in deal chatter, Keller’s scheduled Sunday start against Baltimore might be the difference between him remaining in the rotation or moving to the bullpen …  or worse, between staying with the Royals or leaving in a trade.

Brad Keller’s performances for the KC Royals have taken a turn for the worse.

Overall this season, Keller is 1-7, but attribute part of that disturbing record to the Royals giving him poor run support and dropping games when he pitches well. He’s had good control (2.7 BB9) and his May 27 start was the only game this season where he didn’t last at least five innings.

But some of that 1-7 record is of Keller’s own doing, especially lately. Over his last six starts, he’s given up six runs twice, four runs twice, and three runs twice.

Take his short May 27 outing for example. Minnesota battered him for six runs and 11 hits in four innings. He also surrendered six runs (five earned) to Texas May 10, and four to the Twins May 21. For May, he was 1-3 in five starts with a 5.40 ERA.

(He was better Tuesday evening against the Blue Jays—in six-plus innings, he gave up three runs, struck out four and walked only two).

Keller definitely struggled in May, but on a team where good starts seem few and far between, and considering his entire body of work this season, I still believe he’s one of Kansas City’s more consistent starters. It wouldn’t be prudent to trade him or even move him to the bullpen.

Keller’s start against the Orioles Sunday gives him the chance support my case for him, or prove me wrong and force me to find some barbecue sauce for my next serving of crow. To spare me of another dish of a bird I prefer not to eat, he needs to go out and be the Keller we saw early in the season.

Next. MJ Melendez belongs. dark

Sunday’s game at Kauffman Stadium is set for 1:10 p.m. CDT.