After snapping a six-game slot losing streak with a 5-3 win over the Boston Red Sox on Friday night, the Kansas City Royals will look for their second straight win against the Sox on Saturday afternoon.
Instead of using an opener for a second straight day, the Royals will move up their next two starters.
Right-hander Brad Keller (6-6, 6.14 ERA), originally slated to start Sunday, will be Saturday’s starter instead.
The Red Sox will counter with Martin Perez (4-4, 4.52).
With an off day Thursday, Keller and Sunday’s starter, left-hander Mike Minor, were able to be moved up a day and still be kept on regular rest. Even though Keller, 25, has struggled, he has been more consistent than the other young starters.
Royals manager Mike Matheny is using everything he can think of to get his young rotation back on track.
“We’d talked about from the beginning we were going to try to be as creative as we can throughout the long haul of this season,” Matheny said. “Whether it’s to cut a guy short or skip a guy or having a six-man (rotation) at some point, which we really haven’t (done).
“But it’s just not taking anything off the table to help our guys through this.
I think it’s really well documented right now that baseball is struggling to keep their starters on the mound. This is just trying to think outside the box a little bit and maybe help out some of our younger guys.”
Matheny needs Keller to return to the form that led him to being the team’s opening-day starter. He had chipped away at an ERA that was at 12.00 after four starts. He lowered it for eight straight starts after that, but in his past two, he has allowed 11 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings.
“Brad looked like he had good velocity and good movement,” Matheny said after Keller’s start against Detroit on Monday. “He just had trouble putting it where he wanted to.
Perez is struggling as well.
Like Keller, he has lost his past two starts, allowing 11 earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings.
Against the Blue Jays in his most start, last Sunday, he surrendered three home runs, including a first-inning, three-run shot. He was pulled in the second inning of Boston’s 18-4 loss. The onslaught included season highs in runs and hits (20) allowed, as well as a franchise-record eight home runs given up.
“It’s gonna happen, games like this,” said Perez, who allowed five runs on six hits in 1 1/3 innings.
“Once a year it’s gonna happen, and it happened tonight to us.”
Boston has won three of its past four games but has given up eight runs in two of them.
“It’s been a horrible week for us, pitching-wise,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “For us to keep going and stay where we are (in playoff position), we have to pitch.”
–Field Level Media