The Royals and White Sox faced off for the first time in 2021 on Thursday after a lengthy rain delay.
Big Picture: The Royals lost for the second consecutive game and fell to .500 for the first time this season. They are now 1 1/2 games out of first place and in a tie with Chicago and Detroit. Cleveland is just 1/2 game behind the Royals.
Keller Is A Disaster, Again: Brad Keller’s start on opening day was so bad that his second start had to be better. And it was. Unfortunately, a better start doesn’t mean it was good. It wasn’t. And now the Royals have to be somewhat concerned about the pitcher they thought was their best.
The Chicago White Sox offense that Keller faced Thursday is much better than the Texas Rangers offense he faced in his first start. But Keller is supposed to be the Royals’ best pitcher. That’s why he started on opening day.
It looked like Keller might have flipped a switch with the first two batters. He got Adam Eaton to ground out to second base and then struck out the scary Luis Robert. Eight pitches into the game, Keller appeared to have fixed the problems from his previous start.
But then a Jose Abreau double, a Yoan Moncada home run, and a Yermin Mercedes home run, and we were back to where he left off from his first start. And both home runs were on batting practice sliders that were in the middle of the zone. Both home runs were crushed.
Mike Matheny said in his post-game press conference that Keller is not trusting his fastball right now. He said that Keller needs to command his fastball and get it down in the zone to help set up his other pitches. Matheny thinks Keller can still be the pitcher they thought he would be that made him the opening day starter, but he did seem to be a little down and frustrated with Keller’s performance.
Keller seemed to agree with Matheny that he isn’t trusting his stuff right now. He was nibbling at times, and things snowballed on him.
Brad Keller needs to figure things out quickly. The Royals are relying on him to help lead them this season. With each bad start, Keller has, the Royals’ chances at finishing at or above .500 take a big hit.
Offense Struggles For Fourth Consecutive Game: Scoring 25 runs in the first two games might have made some people believe that the offense would be the strength of this team. But since those two games in which the Royals went 2-0, the Royals have averaged just two runs per game in their next four games, going 1-3.
The Royals only managed two runs on four hits on Wednesday against Cleveland. Thursday was even worse. In the home opener in Chicago, the Royal failed to score and only had five hits.
We Have Seen This Show Before: Watching the sixth inning Thursday, I felt like we were back to one week ago on opening day. I’m just talking about the pitching. Clearly, the offense Thursday was nothing like opening day.
But the pitching felt so similar. Brad Keller was bad beginning in the first inning. Once he was knocked from the game, Kyle Zimmer entered and was terrific. He got two big outs on opening day. Thursday, he went 1 2/3 innings and did allow any base runners. That slowed down Chicago’s offense temporarily. But then Carlos Hernandez entered and immediately struggled. On opening day, Hernandez settled down after allowing two runs and gave the club three innings. Unfortunately, on Thursday, Hernandez allowed two runs and lasted just 1/3 of an inning.
Staumont Under Used? What is keeping Mike Matheny from using Josh Staumont early in the season? Staumont is one of, if not the best, relief pitcher the Royals have, and yet Thursday was just his second appearance of the season. And it’s not like the Royals haven’t needed bullpen innings. Staumont showed Thursday why he needs to be used more. He walked one and struck out one in 1 2/3 innings.
Mike Matheny said after the game that the club has been slow with Staumont because of his late start to spring training. He believes Staumont is getting close, but the club doesn’t want to push him if he feels weak.
First Base Defense Alert! With the bases loaded for the White Sox in the sixth, Michael Taylor caught a fly ball in center and fired toward home to hold the runners. But Taylor’s throw was way off, and Carlos Santana had to move his feet and make a tough stop to prevent Danny Mendrick from walking home backward on his hands. This has been your first base defense matters alert. Feel free to go back to what you were doing.
Next Up: The series takes a day off on Friday. It resumes Saturday at 1:10 pm. Mike Minor gets the start for the Royals. Dylan Cease starts on the mound for Chicago. The Royals need a win to avoid falling below .500 for the first time this season and to stay alive in the series.
|– Alberto, 2b||15||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|– Gallagher, c||14||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|