KC Royals: 3 players who need to be on the bubble

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(Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals, Brad Keller
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The job of a two-time KC Royals Pitcher of the Year could be in jeopardy.

The enigmatic five-year Kansas City career of Brad Keller continues. A pitcher known for being good in even-numbered years (9-6 with a 3.08 ERA in 2018, 5-3 and 2.47 in 2020) and bad in odd-numbered seasons (7-14 in 2019 and 8-12, 5.39 last year), is struggling once again.

Another loss will give him the most he’s had in any single season: he’s 6-14 entering this afternoon’s series finale with Detroit. A couple of bad outings could propel his 5.10 ERA past his career-worst 5.39.

And he lost last month the spot he’s had in the Royals’ starting rotation since 2018. Pitching in relief, though, something he’d done only twice before for the Royals, hasn’t made much difference. Keller, 6-13 with a 4.93 ERA as a starter before moving to the bullpen, is 0-1, 6.46 in 11 games since.

Keller hasn’t been consistently on track since he won his second club Pitcher of the Year award in 2020. Being arbitration-eligible adds to the uncertainty of his Royal future—KC may not want to pay any of the inevitable raise he’ll get via a process that all but guarantees more money to players whose performance doesn’t warrant it.

Consider Keller to be on the bubble for 2023.