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KANSAS CITY — The Royals are eight games into the season and are still trying to get their rhythm, with two rainouts this past week and a scheduled off-day Monday. But they snapped a five-game losing streak Saturday against the Tigers and open a three-game series against the Twins tonight at Kauffman Stadium.
Even with the rainouts, here’s what we’ve learned about these Royals in the first week of the 2022 season.
1) Brad Keller and Hunter Dozier are primed for bounceback campaigns
Keller, who posted a career-high 5.39 ERA in 26 starts last season, has allowed two runs in 13 innings across two starts so far this season.
Despite taking the loss Friday when the offense couldn’t support his seven-inning, two-run start, Keller has been excellent. He refined a mechanical flaw that popped up last year, finding the form that has made him successful in the past. He has been pounding the strike zone instead of selling out for a strikeout, something he admitted to doing last year and that might have led to high pitch counts and short outings. And he’s mixed in his changeup to lefties, most of whom were confused by the pitch they saw.
Dozier’s two-run homer was the swing the Royals needed to win Saturday, and that swing has been a continuation of what he showed at the end of last season and during spring. Dozier has an .803 OPS entering Tuesday night and has been one of the Royals’ most productive hitters. That’s exactly what the Royals need him to be; last year, he played through injuries and then admitted he pressed too much to outperform the contract extension he signed during Spring Training.
He’s put 2021 in the rearview mirror with his early 2022 production.
“It just brings a little more confidence to me,” Dozier said. “Saying, ‘OK, the things I worked on, the things I did in Spring Training, I’m heading in the right direction.’”