The KC Royals received mixed results from pitchers at key career points
From Friday's first inning through Sunday's final frame, Quatraro used 23 pitchers, some of whom are, or may be, at career crossroads. Where and in what roles they open the season depends much on what they do before spring camp breaks late next month. Some pitched well over the weekend, but some didn't.
The most anticipated outing of the weekend was that of Brad Keller, he of the fresh-look curveball he's hoping puts his pitching back on track following his banishment to the bullpen late last year and two consecutive and well-chronicled poor seasons. Keller started Sunday and was excellent in the first inning: he gave up a leadoff hit before striking out American League Rookie of the Year Julio Rodriguez, Ty France and Eugenio Suarez in order.
Keller's second inning bore no resemblance to his first. He coughed up a leadoff homer to Jarred Kelenic and a walk and two runs before reaching his pitch limit and giving way to Walter Pennington. First game of the spring, yes, but Keller can't afford many frames like Sunday's second if he wants to reclaim his place in the Kansas City rotation.
Quatraro had to like what he saw from two pitchers working their respective ways back from Tommy John Surgery. Lefty Richard Lovelady threw a nice scoreless, one-hit, one-strikeout inning Saturday, and Jonathan Bowlan gave up a run but struck out three in his Sunday inning.
And what of non-roster invitee Mike Mayers, whose career 5.10 ERA strongly suggests his margin for error is slim and he'll earn a spot on the Opening Day roster only with an excellent spring? He started Sunday and fanned two in two innings, but he also gave the Mariners three runs and three hits.
SECOND TAKE: Brad Keller still needs a lot of work, and Mike Mayers' road to Kansas City may be a bit more difficult than it was before Sunday.