Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Brad Keller could help the Colorado Rockies starting rotation
Brad Keller has been the ace for the Kansas City Royals for the last few seasons as he was their Opening Day starter in 2019 and 2021. In 2018, he was good for them in his rookie season as he appeared in 41 games (20 starts) and had a 3.08 ERA.
In 2019, Keller suffered from a lack of run support as he went 7-14 but he had an ERA of 4.19 (114 ERA+) and a FIP of 4.35 across 165 1/3 innings. In 2020, he lowered his walk rate by a full walk per nine innings and his WHIP from 1.355 to 1.024. That helped get his ERA down to 2.47.
But in 2021, he regressed as, in 26 starts, he had a 5.39 ERA with a 1.661 WHIP, a 4.72 FIP, and an elevated walk rate (4.3 BB/9).
Why would the Rockies be interested in him? First of all, he still has two years left before free agency (at least under the current CBA). Secondly, they’d be buying low on him. Thirdly, his groundball rate.
As we have discussed a lot in our trade target series, groundball rate is the key for Rockies pitchers at Coors Field. The higher the groundball rate, the better the results at Coors.
Since 2019, Keller’s groundball rate (among starters with at least 300 innings pitched) is 49.6 percent. That is 9th-highest in that span. Antonio Senzetela was 6th, Germán Márquez was 8th, and Jon Gray was 17th in that same span.
It was lower than ever before in 2021 (47.8 percent) but if that gets to 50 percent or above again (like in the previous three seasons), he could be an asset for the Rockies.