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Royals Rumblings - News for September 18, 2018

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I like this Keller feller.

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Kansas City Royals v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Royals Rumblings - News for September 18, 2018

Brad Keller didn’t have his best stuff, but he was able to grind for six innings.

“I obviously didn’t have my best command today, especially early on,” Keller said. “But the changeup started to come on late, so I tried to roll with that. I felt like I had a few more innings, and then that seventh inning -- base hit up the middle and then kind of a cheap hit right there got me out of that game. But definitely a grind one.”

Rany Jazayerli at The Athletic looks at whether Keller can continue his success.

To this point in the season, Keller’s performance had all the markings of a fluke. But then comes Part 3, his past eight starts, in which Keller has not only gotten better results (2.45 ERA), but with underlying metrics that suggest a real change: in 51 1/3 innings, Keller has allowed four homers – a ratio far more sustainable than he had prior to August – but with an excellent strikeout-to-walk ratio of 42 to 14.

And while it’s possible his performance over the past six weeks is just statistical noise, there’s a good reason for his sudden improvement – Keller tweaked his slider midseason, which has given him a new weapon. Before, he relied on the fierce movement of his fastball to evoke weak contact; his 54.4 percent ground-ball rate ranks fourth in the majors among pitchers with at least 100 innings, behind only Marcus Stroman, Clayton Richard and Lance McCullers Jr. But since Aug. 1, he is also missing bats, with a 20.1-percent K rate, compared to 14.1 percent through the end of July.

MLB.com names each team’s breakout player in 2019.

Royals: Brad Keller

Key stat: 3.04 ERAKeller had a 4.68 ERA in Double-A Jackson last year, but he has been the Royals’ best pitcher this year. He just turned 23 years old as well.

Wayne Cavadi at Minor League Ball profiles Royals minor league pitcher Daniel Lynch.

The lefty can miss bats. He can make hitters look foolish chasing his slider and change up, and he can freeze batters at the plate, simply looking at his stuff fly by. He also doesn’t allow many runs, letting up just three earned since the start of August, including none in the postseason. That speaks a bit to his pitchability, especially that moxie in his first playoffs as a professional just months into his career.

He has all the makings of a middle-of-the-rotation arm, it’s just a matter of showing he can continue the velocity and go longer innings into games. Neither should be an issue based on his history, so Lynch should be on the radar for 2019.

Marcus Meade at Royals Farm Report admits he was wrong to be down on Kelvin Gutierrez.

But around this time I also started to hear about Gutierrez making changes to his swing. I don’t typically believe this sort of thing because if it was as simple as working on a swing and everyone is cured, all struggling hitters would simply work on their swings and be cured. The rumors had it that he was working to loft his overly flat swing and access his power potential. Big if true, but I wasn’t laying money on a turnaround.

Turns out, I shoulda laid money on a turnaround. From July 15 until the end of the season, Gutierrez hit .299/.368/.443/.810 with a .144 ISO. His walk rate jumped from 4.2 to 8.8 and his strikeout rate dropped from 19.7 to 16.6. His most important improvement was in the power department. A 40 point jump in ISO is significant. In the final month and a half, he had 13 extra-base hits. He had only 4 in the three weeks prior. He had only 18 extra-base hits in his entire season until July 15.

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