Royals rookie Bobby Witt Jr. returns home to face Rangers

Globe Life Field has yet to provide much of a home advantage for the Texas Rangers. They’ll look to reverse that trend Tuesday when they open a three-game series with the visiting Kansas City Royals.

The Rangers are just 4-9 at home this season, although the Royals are just 3-8 on the road following Monday’s 6-1 setback in Baltimore.

Kansas City will send right-hander Brad Keller (1-2, 1.74 ERA) to the mound against Texas lefty Martin Perez (0-2, 2.25).

One of the Rangers’ key offseason additions has yet to heat up at home. Infielder Marcus Semien, who signed a seven-year, $175 million contract, is just 6-for-53 (.113) with two doubles and no home runs in Arlington, Texas.

Texas’ other major offseason signing, Corey Seager, is also off to a slow start. But the shortstop (signed for 10 years and $325 million) is performing better thus far at home than on the road. He is hitting .271 with four homers, nine RBIs and an OPS of .860 in 12 games at home.

On the mound, Perez has performed much better on the road than at home. In two away outings, he has yet to allow a run in 13 innings. He threw seven shutout innings in a no-decision on May 4 at the Philadelphia Phillies. But in three home starts, he’s 0-2 with a 4.20 ERA. Opponents are batting .250 off him at home, compared to .143 on the road.

Physically, it was a painful last time out for Perez in Philadelphia — not because he was tagged for any runs that night, but because in the second inning, he was struck by a line drive on his right calf by J.T. Realmuto.

Staying with the play, Perez threw Realmuto out at first, but was left with a bruise. Still, he made it through seven innings.

“Martin was an absolute warrior out there,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said.

For the Royals, Keller picked up his first win of the year in his last start, tossing 6 1/3 shutout innings against the St. Louis Cardinals on May 3.

Not overpowering, Keller’s four-seam fastball averages 93.5 mph, per Statcast. The pitch that has been his most effective is his slider. Opponents are hitting just .071 against the pitch.

Keller has just 19 strikeouts in 31 innings. But he’s been able to minimize traffic on the bases with a WHIP of 0.839.

As impressive as Keller was his last time out, his performance was overshadowed by rookie phenom Bobby Witt Jr., who belted his first MLB home run in that 7-1 win over St. Louis.

“It was awesome,” Witt said that night. “Lot of energy out there. And a lot of Cardinals fans, so it was good to beat them with a lot of fans here.”

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, Witt is a native of nearby Colleyville, Texas. He attended Colleyville Heritage High School, and is regarded as one of the top prospects in the sport.

Tuesday will mark Witt’s first MLB game in his home state.

–Field Level Media

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