There is no sugarcoating the 2022 season Brad Keller turned in for the KC Royals. He had his moments, but too few of them, and must be spending baseball’s winter searching for answers.
Some will cherry-pick isolated improved numbers and peripherals to convince fans that Keller’s season wasn’t really bad, but those shiny objects were also too few and far between and prove inconsequential in the grand scheme of his season’s work.
No matter how it’s painted, depicted, described, rationalized, or presented, Keller’s 2022 Kansas City campaign was bad.
Brad Keller’s season with the KC Royals was one he likely wants to forget.
There is talent in Brad Keller, probably more than his 35-49 career record reflects. His 2018 rookie season was a pleasant surprise—he went 9-6 (the nine wins tied Jakob Junis for club best), his 3.08 ERA led the KC rotation, and he won the team’s Pitcher of the Year award. He slid to 7-14 in 2019, but his pandemic-season 5-3, 2.47 was good enough to warrant his second Pitcher of the Year honor.
But 2021 was a disaster. Keller was 8-12 with an unacceptable 5.39 ERA in 26 starts and his 4.31 BB/9 was and remains the worst of his five-year big league career.
So it was that through his first four seasons, Keller’s talent manifested itself best in even years, leading some to anticipate a bounce-back 2022 performance.
It didn’t happen. Instead, Keller remained ensnared in the maddening inconsistency that’s plagued him for three full campaigns—he pitched well at times but poorly too frequently, and when he gave the Dodgers eight runs in three innings Aug. 13 and they gave him his 13th loss of the season, former manager Mike Matheny pulled him from the rotation.
The move did nothing to change Keller’s pitching fortune. He came out of the bullpen 13 times down the stretch and gave up 13 runs and walked 10 in 17.1 innings, and lost his only relief decision.
He finished the season 6-14, 5.09, numbers that make finding his cloud’s silver lining difficult, if one even exists.
It’s an unpleasant decision, but we must give Keller an F for 2022.
Let’s hope Brad Keller has a better 2023.