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Royals set rotation order, Brad Keller gets Opening Day

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Keller gets the Opening Day assignment for the second time.

Chicago White Sox v Kansas City Royals Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Manager Mike Matheny has set his rotation to begin the regular season, and Brad Keller will get the Opening Day assignment for the second time in his career. Keller tossed seven shutout innings against the White Sox on Opening Day in 2019 in a 5-3 win. He likely would have started last year as well, had he not had to begin the year on the Injured List after a positive COVID-19 test.

Matheny announced how the rest of the rotation will start the season, with left-hander Mike Minor starting the second game, followed by right-hander Brady Singer, and left-hander Danny Duffy. Becauase of the off-days early in the schedule, the Royals will not need a fifth starter until April 16. Left-hander Kris Bubic was optioned to Triple-A this week, but could return by then.

Since being acquired in the Rule 5 draft in 2017, Keller has been outstanding with the Royals, posting a 3.50 ERA and 3.90 FIP in 360 13 innings over the last three seasons, worth 8.3 WAR according to Baseball-Reference. Last year he was particularly stingy at home, allowing just one run in five starts for a 0.27 ERA. The Royals open the season at home on April 1 against the Texas Rangers.

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, 2020

Brad Keller 2019