Kwang Hyun Kim will try to regain his midseason form on Saturday when the St. Louis Cardinals host the Kansas City Royals.
The Cardinals posted a 4-2 victory on Friday in the opener of this three-game series at Busch Stadium.
Kim is returning to the starting rotation after a dismal outing in his last trip to the mound. The left-hander battled fatigue and diminished fastball velocity in a 7-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians.
“The velo will go up as the season goes,” Kim said, via a translator. “If I focus too much on the velo when I’m pitching, I get stressed about it, and I can’t really focus on pitching. Velo is important. But the most important thing is control. Even in Cleveland, the results were bad because of my control.”
Kim allowed four homers while surrendering five runs in 2 2/3 innings in that game against the Indians.
Prior to that start, Kim had become one of the more reliable Cardinals starters. He won his first four starts in July while allowing just two earned runs in a span of 25 innings.
While regrouping, Kim was able to watch fellow left-handers Jon Lester and J.A. Happ make their first starts for the Cardinals after arriving in trades.
“They’re kind of my mentors now,” Kim said. “They’ve been in the major leagues for a long time, and they’re older than me. So it’s something that has already been a good experience looking at them. Most of the time I’m the only lefty. This is my chance to learn.”
While Kim will face the Royals for the first time, Kansas City pitcher Brad Keller (7-10, 5.64) will make his sixth career appearance and fourth start against the Cardinals. Keller is 1-2 with a 4.74 ERA against St. Louis.
Keller has had success against Yadier Molina (0-for-4), Harrison Bader (0-for-4, two strikeouts), Matt Carpenter (1-for-7, three strikeouts) and Paul DeJong (1-for-6).
Like Kim, Keller is coming off of a difficult outing. He allowed three runs on seven hits in three innings of a 5-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays before exiting with lower back tightness.
Keller had minor back issues in the past and was able to pitch through it.
“For some reason, this time it just never really loosened up,” he said.
Prior to that outing, Keller was 1-1 with a 2.28 ERA in four July starts.
The Royals played without catcher Salvador Perez on Friday due to a non-COVID illness. He could return for Saturday’s contest.
“He did all of his testing, that is not the issue,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “But the doctors wanted to give him a day to feel better.”
With Perez down, Ryan O’Hearn went 2-for-3 with an RBI triple after stepping into the cleanup spot. He has five RBIs in his past three games.
“He’s in a confident spot,” Matheny said. “This is the first time we’ve really seen him like that. It’s something we want to keep building on.”
Royals outfielder Andrew Benintendi pinch-hit Friday while continuing his recovery from a shoulder strain he sustained Tuesday. He could return to the starting lineup before this series ends.
–Field Level Media