Royals manager Ned Yost sees a potentially bright future for starting pitcher Brad Keller, and Yost is not going to apologize for being careful in Keller’s first full season in the major-league rotation.
Yost doubled-down on his comments following Tuesday night’s game, in which he pulled Keller after six scoreless innings and 79 pitches.
Even though Yost said neither he nor pitching coach Cal Eldred have been given a hard innings limit from the front office, they’re going to continue to evaluate start-by-start whether they need to lighten Keller’s workload.
“A lot of people, they get to 30 or 40 innings past where they were the season before, they’ll shut him down,” Yost said. “They say once you get past that 40-inning mark, it’s like boom. Well, we’re not there, and we’re not doing anything like that but we’re definitely going to monitor. This is the most innings he’s ever thrown.”
A former Rule 5 draft pick, the 24-year-old Keller has thrown 23 2/3 more innings than he did in 2018.
“It’s hard for people to understand, but you build up a starter like we did with (Mike) Montgomery — you know, we did 40 pitches, 60 pitches, and so on,” Yost said. “You’ve got to build up year-to-year in innings for your body to start to be able to handle it.”
With six weeks remaining in the season, Yost would much rather err on the side of “prudence” and “common sense.” Yost said right now he, Eldred and trainer Nick Kenney together are being mindful of Keller having pitched more than ever before.
Duffy decision waits
Yost said no decision had been made on left-handed pitcher Danny Duffy’s return. Duffy threw a four-inning simulated game on Tuesday afternoon, his second simulated outing since going on the injured list because of a left hamstring strain.
The Royals could chose to have him throw another simulated game or a rehab start in the minors, but the possibility remains that Royals could activate him and insert him back into their starting rotation.
As of Wednesday, the Royals haven’t listed a starting pitcher for Sunday’s game in Cleveland. Jorge Lopez, who pitched five strong innings in his latest spot start, could also start Sunday’s game.
Shortstop Adalberto Mondesi went 0-for-4 in his first game action since July 16. Mondesi remains on the injured list because of a left shoulder subluxation he sustained while diving for a fly ball in foul territory at Kauffman Stadium.
Mondesi began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Omaha on Tuesday night. He struck out three times in his four at-bats as the designated hitter. He’s expected to play the field for three to five innings on Wednesday and Thursday, and he’ll either get a day off or serve as DH again on Friday.