In the volatile sport of baseball, luck can change from one day to the next. Royals fans are familiar with both the highs and lows, but Brad Keller is figuring out how to steady the ship.
The twenty-five-year-old pitcher won a spot on the Royals’ roster in 2018. Since then, the rightie has been a reliable piece of the rotation. Even after contracting Covid weeks before the 2020 season, he battled through lingering fatigue to finish the season with a stellar 2.47 ERA and be named the team’s pitcher of the year.
Keller has had ups and downs this season, but he’s become a stalwart piece of a young club that’s trying to bring glory back to KC.
How did you feel when first coming to Kansas City? To be honest, at first I felt a little iffy. My first time in Kansas City was for a pre-draft workout with the Royals, and while we were there a tornado came through. My brother and I were in the hotel room with sirens going off, and we were in full panic mode. I’m terrified of tornadoes because we have them back home in Georgia.
When I was traded to the Royals in 2017, I thought, “I’m back in Tornado Alley.” But I absolutely love Kansas City. I’m from a small town [Flowery Branch, Georgia], and Kansas City is actually a big city with a small-town feel. Everyone loves and cares for each other. Through thick and thin, they’re still there behind you.
What was your major league debut like? I remember Ned Yost called me into his office and told me I made the team, and I just blacked out. I don’t remember what he said after those words.
I made my debut on opening day 2018 in the bullpen, which was also the first opening day I’d ever been to at all. It was against the Chicago White Sox, and it was freezing cold. I also got my first major league strikeout. I marked off all my firsts, back-to-back-to-back. It was a surreal moment.
What do you like most about Kauffman Stadium? There’s something about those fountains. It could be a thousand degrees outside, but you hear the fountains running and it brings a calmness over you. When I was in the bullpen, a veteran player told me that it was the best way to calm down. It takes away the buzz of the crowd and you don’t hear anything else.
What was your favorite team growing up? The nineties Atlanta Braves when they went on those stupid runs where they won all those pennants. Watching John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, every game looked like a lot of fun. I spent every birthday at a Braves game.
Up-Down KC “Before Covid, I loved playing the games there. It brought me back to being a little kid playing Mortal Kombat and NFL Blitz.”
WWI Memorial Viewpoint “Any time family or friends come into town, I take them there. I don’t think there’s a view like that in any other city.
Mission Taco “That place is the bomb. I always get in and get out with tacos and some chips and dip.”