Why 3 KC Royals may need to find new clubs in 2023

(Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports) /
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KC Royals, Brad Keller
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

The KC Royals may need to move on from this righthanded starting pitcher.

Major league baseball is a tough business, one where talent inconsistently applied rarely breeds long-term success.

Unfortunately for Brad Keller and the Royals, inconsistency has become the unfortunate hallmark of his five Kansas City seasons.

Keller came to the Royals via a December 2017 trade they consummated with Cincinnati immediately after the Reds obtained him from Arizona in that winter’s Rule 5 draft. He was an instant success—he tied Jakob Junis for the club lead in wins and his 9-6, 3.08 season earned him the first of his two club Pitcher of the Year awards. He won his second by going 5-3, 2.47 in 2020’s pandemic-truncated campaign.

Sadly, Keller’s other three seasons haven’t gone as well. He was 7-14 in 2019, then 8-12 with an unacceptable 5.39 ERA last year, his worst in the big leagues. And after Oakland roughed him up Saturday for five runs and eight hits in 3.2 innings, he’s 2-9, 4.56 in 14 starts.

The 2022 Royals give Keller notoriously poor run support when he pitches, which doesn’t leave much room for pitcher error. But the six runs he’s given up twice, the five he’s surrendered two more times, and the four he’s allowed opponents three times, suggest Keller makes too many errors.

He’s had his moments, of course, including the masterful scoreless, one-hit, six-strikeout, seven inning performance he turned in against the A’s June 18, and the two other games in which he didn’t allow a run.

Keller’s maddening inconsistency, unpredictability and marginal reliability, though, are outweighing his talent and should prompt the Royals to move on from him.

Unless, of course, he pitches the remainder of the season like he did in those two Pitcher of the Year campaigns.