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Game II Thread: Guardians at Royals

The Royals will attempt to open the season with back-to-back wins in back-to-back seasons

Cleveland Guardians v Kansas City Royals
Bobby Witt Jr. is going to be signing a lot of balls before he’s done
Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images

Baseball is back! And the Royals are still undefeated in 2022! And today they will play another game!

Manager Mike Matheny will send out the exact same lineup he used on Thursday except today’s starting pitcher will be Brad Keller. Keller is an interesting case. Four years ago he was a Rule 5 draft pick and made the team simply because the Royals didn’t have any other particularly good options for the bullpen and he had a decent spring.

Keller didn’t and doesn’t have elite velocity. He primarily uses two pitches - a fastball and slider. He doesn’t strike guys out. But until last season, he was elite at one thing: keeping the ball in the stadium. Even after last year he has a career HR/9 of 0.77. That’ll play. Especially with an elite defense behind you. Unfortunately, last season the home run bug bit him. His HR/9 ballooned to 1.21 and his ERA more than doubled from his excellent 2020 season.

The good news for Royals fans is that after a rough first half, he rebounded very well in July and compiled a 2.28 ERA while only allowing a pair of dingers in 27.2 innings. Unfortunately for Royals fans, the problem may not be as solved as some would have you believe. In August his HR/9, walk rate, and ERA all crept back up to where they were prior to July before he was benched due to fatigue for the remainder of the season. Did Keller figure something out and then get tired? Or did he get lucky for a handful of starts in a row and now faces a reality where he may never again be the pitcher the Royals thought they’d lucked into back in 2018?

Only time will tell, so keep an eye on that home run rate.