The Royals have had a walk problem all season. There are only four teams in the league who were walking batters at a higher percentage than Kansas City entering this three-game set against New York.
But these last two days have made the previous 70 games look like a strike-throwing clinic. In 17.1 innings this series, Royals’ pitchers have walked 19 Yankees. Part of that has to do with the opponent, as New York owns the 2nd highest BB% in baseball as a team. Combine that with a team that has struggled to throw strikes all season and you can’t be all that surprised with the happenings.
Last night was deflating, to say the least. Causing Aroldis Chapman to not only blow the save, but also give up the lead, only to come out on the wrong end stings. But Kansas City still has a shot to take the series this afternoon, which would give them consecutive series wins against the Red Sox and Yankees.
But you should probably expect more of the same struggle to throw strikes with Brad Keller headed to the mound. Keller comes into today’s ballgame with the 15th worst Zone% among pitchers with at least 70 innings pitched. And while Jacob deGrom slides into that list at 5th lowest, he also carries a 21.6% swinging strike percentage and gets batters to swing at pitches out of the zone 43.5% of the time, both tops in baseball.
Keller, meanwhile, carries the 6th lowest swinging strike percentage and 20th lowest percentage of swings on pitches outside the zone. In other words, Keller struggles to keep the ball in the zone and when he struggles, batters don’t often swing at those pitches out of the zone.
So walks are a bit of a problem for Keller! He has the 7th highest BB% in the league and the highest on the Royals.
If there was ever a day for Rad Keller to resurrect, it would be today. He will be opposed by a struggling Jameson Taillon, who has a 7.84 ERA in three June starts.
Here are your lineups for today’s game. And the Royals’ lineup is interesting, with Ryan O’Hearn in right field and Jarrod Dyson hitting 6th.