The Kansas City Royals are shutting pitcher Brad Keller down for the remainder of the 2021 season, originally announced by manager Mike Matheny but reported by Anne Rogers of MLB.com.
Keller, who hasn't pitched since Aug. 26 because of the right lat strain, was having his worst season as a starter this year. In 26 starts, the 26-year-old righty went 8-12 while posting a 5.39 ERA in 133.2 innings of work. Things seemed to be improving, though: Over Keller's last nine starts, he averaged over five innings per outing and his ERA was just 3.42. Alas, he won't get a chance to continue that momentum nor build more of it heading into 2022.
In four seasons with the Royals, Keller has posted a 29-35 record with a 4.01 ERA. Before his injury, his SO/9 was a career-high 8.1. Unfortunately, so was his BB/9 of 4.3. Keller struggled with his command throughout the 2021 campaign and just couldn't seem to get things going for too long before the wheels fell off again.
The development of young pitchers such as Daniel Lynch, Kris Bubic and Carlos Hernandez has put the Royals in an interesting situation. They certainly need Keller to be an effective member of the pitching staff in order to be a good team, but his long-term status in the rotation may not be as concrete as some think. This is before factoring in arms such as Asa Lacy and others who could join the team in a couple of years.
At any rate, Keller's rehabilitation timeline will be a major storyline for the organization as it heads into the offseason. For the sake of everyone involved, the Royals' hope is that he can return to being the pitcher he was for the first three years of his tenure and avoid having another 2021-like season.