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Brad Keller to get Opening Day start

Keller goes from Rule 5 pick to Opening Day starter.

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

Manager Ned Yost has named Brad Keller his starter for the season opener on March 28 at home against the White Sox. It has been a meteoric rise for the 23-year old Keller who a year ago was fighting to make the roster as a Rule 5 pick from the Diamondbacks. But he impressed many in his rookie campaign, posting a 3.08 ERA and 3.55 FIP in 140 1/3 innings, good enough to be a 3.5 WAR pitcher, according to Baseball Reference. Keller’s opening day assignment was predicted a few weeks ago by catcher Salvador Perez.

“Don’t say anything bro,” Perez said Tuesday to a group of reporters with a wink, “but for me he’s No. 1.”

Danny Duffy was likely the favorite to get the start for the opener, but shoulder stiffness has put him on the shelf and his availability for the start of the season is questionable. Jakob Junis was the other candidate to start on Opening Day with Duffy out, and with Keller getting the start, Junis will likely start the second game.

Keller will be the 26th different pitcher to start the season opener for the Royals.

Royals Opening Day starters:

Wally Bunker 1969-1970

Dick Drago 1971-1972

Steve Busby 1973, 1975

Paul Splittorff 1974, 1976-1977

Dennis Leonard 1978-1980, 1982

Larry Gura 1981, 1983

Bud Black 1984-1986

Danny Jackson 1987

Bret Saberhagen 1988, 1990-1991

Mark Gubicza 1989

Kevin Appier 1992-1997, 1999

Tim Belcher 1998

Jeff Suppan 2000-2002

Runelvys Hernandez 2003

Brian Anderson 2004

Jose Lima 2005

Scott Elarton 2006

Gil Meche 2007-2009

Zack Greinke 2010

Luke Hochevar 2011

Bruce Chen 2012

James Shields 2013-2014

Yordano Ventura 2015

Edinson Volquez 2016

Danny Duffy 2017-2018