The pitcher… one of the hardest positions in baseball. At the same time, pitchers are some of the most talented players on the field. The sheer fact that someone can throw a small round object 100 miles per hour, is insane. However, when a pitcher underperforms, teams can begin to worry. If the guy throwing the ball cannot gain command of a game, it leads to runs and even losses which clearly doesn’t benefit the team.
In the Royals case, this comes in the form of one Brad Keller. After a disappointing start to the 2021 season, the ultimate question has come up… Should KC be worried about their ace? Let’s discuss.
YES BE WORRIED
Firstly, I wanted to wait until after the final game of the Royals series against the Angels to discuss this. I wanted to give Keller the benefit of the doubt that any pitcher can start a year off rocky. After all, two bad games out of 162 is a small sample size to rule out a pitcher. However, the Royals consider Keller their quote on quote “ace”. For context, an ace in baseball means you are the top dog in that bullpen and the number one guy in the rotation of starting pitchers. Brad Keller proved to be an ace after his impressive 2020 season in KC posting a career-best 2.47 ERA.
So, why should KC be worried? Keller allowed only 15 earned runs through 54 total innings of pitching in 2020. In 2021, Keller has allowed a putrid 11 earned runs in only 10.1 innings total. Overall, Keller has been awful so far in 2021. With a 9.48 ERA so far, Kansas City might want to consider moving around pitchers in their rotation.
Any pitcher that posts an ERA that high in only 3 starts, must have something fundamentally going wrong. This could be hitting his spots or velocity, etc.
Keeping all of that in mind, Keller needs to perform better to be considered the Royals ace. Giving up 5 or 6 runs in one inning is not the ways of a number one pitcher in a rotation, plain and simple.
NO DONT BE WORRIED
So, let’s look at why the Royals should have no worries about Keller. First, the sample size of games Keller has thrown in this year supports a turnaround. That turnaround came on Wednesday afternoon when Keller tossed a solid 5.2 innings with only allowing one run overall. The fact is, Keller is a young pitcher who has shown he has the stuff to be an ace and command a strike zone.
At only 25 years of age, Keller is the stereotypical workhorse pitcher, and being concerned only three games in is pointless. Sure, Keller has plenty he can work on but what mid-twenties-year-old pitcher doesn’t right?
Listen Royals fans, I know you want to win every game by a healthy amount, I am right there with you as I support the boys in KC myself. However, the reality is that not every pitcher is going to start the year in a grandiose fashion. Sure, Keller is the ace and has more expectations but cut the guy some slack three games into the season. He found his groove Wednesday that gave the Royals another series win. In my book, Keller just showed why he should be believed in by going out and beating the Angels in the strike zone, period.
Brad Keller is off to a rocky start as the number one guy in the starting rotation. However, Keller will see the mound plenty more times this season to show he’s still the ace in KC. Yes, you can throw out stats all day long but again, three games into a season are not enough to say the stats will support the result. If I’m KC, keep relying on Keller to go out and command the strike zone and keep gaining his footing again.
Final Verdict: DONT WORRY ABOUT BRAD KELLER
Stats from ESPN.com