KC Royals News: Chasing Cleveland, Brad Keller, next up

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The KC Royals, all the baseball rage as they prepare to play their 50th game of the season tonight, are in the hunt. Yes, it's fair and tempting to take the cautious "it's still early" approach, but this team's performance bears scant resemblance to last year's; its 30-19 record, astonishingly effective starting rotation, and an improved offense tell the refreshing tale.

Add to this new mix of success the fact that the Royals have won seven of their last 10 games, woke up this morning looking up at only one team — Cleveland — in the American League Central, and are +5.0 in the American League Wild Card standings.

Unfortunately, though, Kansas City isn't gaining ground in the Central. Second place is theirs, and has been for all but two days since April 9. Even without ace Shane Bieber, lost to them for the season after pitching only twice before undergoing Tommy John Surgery in April, the first-place Guardians won't budge. Like the Royals, they've won seven of 10 and four in a row after beating the Mets Monday while KC took down Detroit.

It seems, then, Cleveland wins when the Royals win, and loses when the Royals lose.

The clubs meet for the first time this season when they square off for a three-game series in Cleveland June 4-6; the Royals then host the Guardians for four contests June 27-30.

Will the Royals kick the tires on Brad Keller if they get the chance?

They might, but shouldn't, if Keller becomes available in the next few days.

Keller, who won a pair of club Pitcher of the Year awards during his six seasons with the Royals but left for free agency after inconsistency and injuries ruined his 2023 campaign, was designated for assignment by the White Sox Monday. The move came two days after the Yankees knocked him around for six runs and seven hits in four innings. Over five appearances since the Sox brought him up from Triple-A late last month, Keller was 0-2 with a 4.86 ERA.

Chicago has seven days to deal him to another club. The White Sox could also lose him on waivers; they can also keep him and send him back to the minors, but only if no team puts in a waiver claim and he agrees to be outrighted — he has enough major league service time to become a free agent by refusing such an assignment.

If Keller hit the open market, the Royals shouldn't jump. He hasn't shown he's regained his best form yet, and the club has plenty of major and minor league pitchers who should get shots before he does.

What's next for Kansas City?

The Royals host Detroit again tonight in the second of the clubs' three-game series. The pitching matchup looks like Alec Marsh, 3-1 with a 2.43 DERA, for Kansas City, and Casey Mize, 1-2, 3.50, for the Tigers.

First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. CDT at Kauffman Stadium.

The series, and KC's current homestand, conclude Wednesday afternoon with a 1:10 p.m. CDT start.

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