MITCH Thomas KELLER
Image of
Nickname:   N/A Position:   RHP
Home: N/A Team:   PIRATES
Height: 6' 2" Bats:   R
Weight: 210 Throws:   R
DOB: 4/4/1996 Agent: N/A
Uniform #: 23  
Birth City: Cedar Rapids, IA
Draft: Pirates #2 - Out of high school (Iowa)
YR LEA TEAM SAL(K) G IP H SO BB GS CG SHO SV W L OBA ERA
2014 GCL GCL-Pirates   9 27.1 19 29 13 8 0 0 0 0 0   1.98
2015 APP BRISTOL   6 19.2 25 25 16 6 0 0 0 0 3   5.49
2016 FSL BRADENTON   1 6 5 7 1 1 0 0 0 1 0   0.00
2016 SAL WEST VIRGINIA   23 124.1 96 131 18 23 0 0 0 8 5   2.46
2017 EL ALTOONA   6 34.2 25 45 11 6 0 0 0 2 2   3.12
2017 NYP WEST VIRGINIA   2 4 2 7 1 2 0 0 0 0 0   0.00
2017 FSL BRADENTON   15 77.1 57 64 20 15 0 0 0 6 3   3.14
2018 FSL BRADENTON   1 4 7 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0   2.25
2018 IL INDIANAPOLIS   10 52.1 59 57 22 10 0 0 0 3 2   4.82
2018 EL ALTOONA   14 86 64 76 32 14 0 0 0 9 2   2.72
2019 IL INDIANAPOLIS   19 103.2 94 123 35 19 0 0 0 7 5   3.56
2019 NL PIRATES   11 48 72 65 16 11 0 0 0 1 5 0.348 7.13
2020 NL PIRATES $214.00 5 21.2 9 16 18 5 0 0 0 1 1 0.132 2.91
2021 NL PIRATES   23 101 131 92 49 23 0 0 0 5 11 0.322 6.17
2021 TAE INDIANAPOLIS   8 28 27 39 13 6 0 0 0 1 1 0.241 3.21
Personal
  • In 2014, Mitch graduated from Xavier High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with a commitment to the Univ. of North Carolina. But in June, the Pirates chose him in the second round . . . and changed his plans.
  • In 2014, Keller got drafted by the Pirates (see Transactions below).  

  • In 2015, Baseball America rated Keller as the 9th-best prospect in the Pirates organization. He dropped to #18 in the spring of 2016. He was at #2 before 2017 spring training, behind only OF Austin Meadows.

    In the spring of 2018, Keller was ranked the #1 prospect in the Pirates' organization, ahead of Meadows this time. And he stayed at #1 in both the spring of 2019 and again in 2020, too.

  • Mitch is very coachable, anxious to learn and quick to implement.

  • To pitch or putt? That was the question Mitch Keller weighed when he was a high school sophomore. Keller was a dominant high school pitcher, but he also possessed talent on the golf course. He once shot a 2-under-par round in the Iowa high school state postseason tournaments. But Keller didn’t follow the path of Zach Johnson, a fellow Iowan with two major titles, including a Masters championship. Instead, Keller chose baseball.

    "I kind of knew in the back of my head what I wanted to do. I kind of figured that if I was going to play college golf, I probably wouldn’t. It’s really hard to be a pro golfer. And I had already been told I could be a professional baseball player." (jdill@bradenton.com - April 2017)

  • 2017-2018: Mitch was invited to play in the AFL Fall Stars Game.  Keller showed his stuff in a perfect opening frame.

  • Keller's 2019 Season: 

    What went right? If you’re a fan of fielding-independent pitching numbers, you’re likely a believer in Keller. He posted a 3.19 FIP and 3.47 xFIP, both the best marks among active Pirates pitchers at the end of the season. Statcast predicts better days ahead, too, as Keller’s .256 expected average and .389 expected slugging percentage were well below the actual .348 average and .546 slugging percentage he allowed.

    Those encouraging numbers were a product of Keller striking out 65 batters, walking 16 and allowing six homers in his 48 innings on the mound. If he maintains those rates while experiencing a dip in his absurdly high .478 batting average on balls in play (league average is around .300), he’ll be well on his way to fulfilling his potential.

    It’s easy to like Keller’s easy, mid-90s fastball. His curveball is a weapon when he can convince opponents that he’s able to throw it for a strike as well as a swing-and-miss pitch. The slider he added earlier this year has diversified his arsenal. He threw 151.2 innings between Triple-A Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, setting him up for a full season’s worth of work next year. And there’s no doubt he learned a lot about how his stuff plays in the Majors by making 11 starts this season.

    “Just a huge, huge, huge learning experience,” Keller said. “Everything about it was a learning experience, from the good outings to the bad ones to being sent down to being brought back up and everything in between. Just a huge learning experience.”

    Best moment:  He went into the offseason on a high note, holding the Cubs to one run while striking out seven over five innings in his last start of the season. But his best outing overall was Aug. 23 against the Reds, the same team that welcomed him to the Majors on May 27 with a six-run first inning. Nearly three months after his big league debut, Keller permitted only one run on six hits and a walk while striking out nine at PNC Park. He established his 95 mph fastball in the strike zone, throwing 20 of 24 first-pitch strikes on the night, while mixing in legitimate swing-and-miss curveballs and sliders. Keller also set a season-high with 20 swinging strikes; only Jordan Lyles recorded more in one game for the Pirates this year.   (Adam Berry - MLB.com - Oct. 18, 2019)

  • Heading into 2020 Spring Training:  Keller is the latest pitching prospect to top the Pirates’ system, joining the likes of Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow in the last decade. Keller has flashed the pure stuff to be a top-of-the-rotation starter, though the Pirates haven’t gotten those results consistently from the previous group. Keller’s chances might be better. He will work with a new big league pitching coach, following the firing of Ray Searage, and likely a more updated organizational pitching philosophy, which has held Pirates pitching prospects back in recent years. (Tim Williams - BA Prospect Handbook - Spring 2020)

    TRANSACTIONS

  • June 2014: The Pirates drafted Mitch in the second round, out of Xavier High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He signed with scout Matt Bimeal for $1 million.

  • June 2, 2022: Keller signed a one-year, $725,000 contract with the Pirates
Pitching
  • Keller CLASS="highlight"> worked CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> making CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> delivery CLASS="highlight"> before CLASS="highlight"> 2022 CLASS="highlight"> spring CLASS="highlight"> training CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> hitting CLASS="highlight"> 100 CLASS="highlight"> mph CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> FASTBALL. CLASS="highlight"> CLASS="highlight">

  • In CLASS="highlight"> 2010, CLASS="highlight"> Mike CLASS="highlight"> Trout CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> an CLASS="highlight"> 18-year-old CLASS="highlight"> prospect CLASS="highlight"> tearing CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Midwest CLASS="highlight"> League CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Angels’ CLASS="highlight"> Class CLASS="highlight"> A CLASS="highlight"> affiliate CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> Cedar CLASS="highlight"> Rapids, CLASS="highlight"> Iowa. CLASS="highlight"> The CLASS="highlight"> way CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> played CLASS="highlight"> then CLASS="highlight"> stood CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 14-year-old CLASS="highlight"> Cedar CLASS="highlight"> Rapids CLASS="highlight"> native CLASS="highlight"> by CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> name CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> Mitch CLASS="highlight"> Keller, CLASS="highlight"> who CLASS="highlight"> said CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> grew CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> watching CLASS="highlight"> Trout. CLASS="highlight"> Now CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> will CLASS="highlight"> get CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> face CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> best CLASS="highlight"> baseball CLASS="highlight"> player CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> planet CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> first CLASS="highlight"> time CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> returns CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Majors CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> Angel CLASS="highlight"> Stadium.

    Keller CLASS="highlight"> often CLASS="highlight"> went CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> ballpark CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> watch CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Cedar CLASS="highlight"> Rapids CLASS="highlight"> Kernels CLASS="highlight"> when CLASS="highlight"> Trout CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> their CLASS="highlight"> roster. CLASS="highlight"> One CLASS="highlight"> home CLASS="highlight"> run CLASS="highlight"> Trout CLASS="highlight"> crushed CLASS="highlight"> over CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> batter’s CLASS="highlight"> eye, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> said, CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> “craziest CLASS="highlight"> thing CLASS="highlight"> I’ve CLASS="highlight"> ever CLASS="highlight"> seen.” CLASS="highlight"> So CLASS="highlight"> Keller’s CLASS="highlight"> excited CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> face CLASS="highlight"> Trout CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> well CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> Albert CLASS="highlight"> Pujols, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> he’s CLASS="highlight"> not CLASS="highlight"> going CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> be CLASS="highlight"> too CLASS="highlight"> star-struck.

    “If CLASS="highlight"> you CLASS="highlight"> start CLASS="highlight"> looking CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> them CLASS="highlight"> like CLASS="highlight"> that, CLASS="highlight"> then CLASS="highlight"> you’re CLASS="highlight"> already CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> step CLASS="highlight"> behind. CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> feel CLASS="highlight"> like CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> can CLASS="highlight"> go CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> against CLASS="highlight"> anybody CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> stuff CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> have, CLASS="highlight"> so CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> don’t CLASS="highlight"> really CLASS="highlight"> think CLASS="highlight"> about CLASS="highlight"> that,” CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> said CLASS="highlight"> before CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Pirates’ CLASS="highlight"> 11-9 CLASS="highlight"> loss CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Cardinals. CLASS="highlight"> “It’ll CLASS="highlight"> be CLASS="highlight"> kind CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> cool CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> face CLASS="highlight"> Trout, CLASS="highlight"> though.”

    “Obviously, CLASS="highlight"> getting CLASS="highlight"> back CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> where CLASS="highlight"> you CLASS="highlight"> want CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> be CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> good CLASS="highlight"> thing,” CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> said. CLASS="highlight"> “It CLASS="highlight"> feels CLASS="highlight"> really CLASS="highlight"> good CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> come CLASS="highlight"> back CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> get CLASS="highlight"> another CLASS="highlight"> opportunity.”

    The CLASS="highlight"> Pirates CLASS="highlight"> sent CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> Triple-A CLASS="highlight"> Indianapolis CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> to-do CLASS="highlight"> list CLASS="highlight"> focused CLASS="highlight"> mostly CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> pitch CLASS="highlight"> sequencing. CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> threw CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> fastball CLASS="highlight"> about CLASS="highlight"> 65 CLASS="highlight"> percent CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> time CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> first CLASS="highlight"> three CLASS="highlight"> starts, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> only CLASS="highlight"> used CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> curveball CLASS="highlight"> 9.1 CLASS="highlight"> percent CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> time. CLASS="highlight"> Keller’s CLASS="highlight"> experience CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Pirates CLASS="highlight"> reinforced CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> importance CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> throwing CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> breaking CLASS="highlight"> balls CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> strikes, CLASS="highlight"> which CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> said CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> did CLASS="highlight"> more CLASS="highlight"> consistently CLASS="highlight"> after CLASS="highlight"> returning CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> Triple-A.

    In CLASS="highlight"> eight CLASS="highlight"> Triple-A CLASS="highlight"> starts CLASS="highlight"> between CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> big CLASS="highlight"> league CLASS="highlight"> stints, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> posted CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 4.14 CLASS="highlight"> ERA CLASS="highlight"> while CLASS="highlight"> striking CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> 49 CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> walking CLASS="highlight"> 10 CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> 45.2 CLASS="highlight"> innings.

    “I CLASS="highlight"> think CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> went CLASS="highlight"> really CLASS="highlight"> well. CLASS="highlight"> Just CLASS="highlight"> going CLASS="highlight"> over CLASS="highlight"> pitch CLASS="highlight"> sequencing CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> splits CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> pitches, CLASS="highlight"> maybe CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> little CLASS="highlight"> bit CLASS="highlight"> less CLASS="highlight"> fastball CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> more CLASS="highlight"> off-speed,” CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> said. CLASS="highlight"> “Really CLASS="highlight"> working CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> throwing CLASS="highlight"> off-speed CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> strikes CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> any CLASS="highlight"> count.

    “It CLASS="highlight"> kept CLASS="highlight"> hitters CLASS="highlight"> off-balance CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> just CLASS="highlight"> made CLASS="highlight"> my CLASS="highlight"> fastball CLASS="highlight"> play CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> little CLASS="highlight"> bit CLASS="highlight"> more CLASS="highlight"> than CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> already CLASS="highlight"> did, CLASS="highlight"> just CLASS="highlight"> because CLASS="highlight"> they CLASS="highlight"> didn’t CLASS="highlight"> know CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> coming. CLASS="highlight"> If CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> don’t CLASS="highlight"> do CLASS="highlight"> that, CLASS="highlight"> I’m CLASS="highlight"> going CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> get CLASS="highlight"> into CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> bad CLASS="highlight"> hitter’s CLASS="highlight"> count CLASS="highlight"> or CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> could CLASS="highlight"> walk CLASS="highlight"> them. CLASS="highlight"> My CLASS="highlight"> mentality CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> had CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> throw CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> strike.”

  • Following CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> 2015 CLASS="highlight"> season, CLASS="highlight"> Mitch CLASS="highlight"> spent CLASS="highlight"> time CLASS="highlight"> working CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> mechanics CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> instructional CLASS="highlight"> league. CLASS="highlight"> “I CLASS="highlight"> really CLASS="highlight"> cleaned CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> my CLASS="highlight"> delivery, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> can CLASS="highlight"> get CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> ball CLASS="highlight"> where CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> want CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> now CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> consistently CLASS="highlight"> throws CLASS="highlight"> strikes,” CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> said. CLASS="highlight"> “I CLASS="highlight"> also CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> more CLASS="highlight"> power CLASS="highlight"> behind CLASS="highlight"> my CLASS="highlight"> pitches CLASS="highlight"> now. CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> feel CLASS="highlight"> stronger CLASS="highlight"> from CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> start CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> stay CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> way CLASS="highlight"> into CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> late CLASS="highlight"> innings.”

  • 2016 CLASS="highlight"> Improvements: CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> began CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> season CLASS="highlight"> No. CLASS="highlight"> 14 CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Pirates' CLASS="highlight"> Top CLASS="highlight"> 30. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> moved CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> No. CLASS="highlight"> 5 CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> list CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> firmly CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Top CLASS="highlight"> 100 CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> No. CLASS="highlight"> 76, CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> October CLASS="highlight"> 2016. CLASS="highlight"> There's CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> chance CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> still CLASS="highlight"> under-ranked.

    Making CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> full-season CLASS="highlight"> debut, CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> 20-year-old CLASS="highlight"> led CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> organization CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> WHIP, CLASS="highlight"> finished CLASS="highlight"> second CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> strikeouts CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> batting-average-against CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> third CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> ERA. CLASS="highlight"> A CLASS="highlight"> late CLASS="highlight"> promotion CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> Bradenton CLASS="highlight"> resulted CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> strong CLASS="highlight"> regular-season CLASS="highlight"> start CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> two CLASS="highlight"> postseason CLASS="highlight"> wins, CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> second CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> which CLASS="highlight"> came CLASS="highlight"> from CLASS="highlight"> tossing CLASS="highlight"> eight CLASS="highlight"> shutout CLASS="highlight"> innings. CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> could CLASS="highlight"> top CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> next CLASS="highlight"> wave CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> young CLASS="highlight"> Pirates CLASS="highlight"> pitching CLASS="highlight"> prospects CLASS="highlight"> making CLASS="highlight"> their CLASS="highlight"> way CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> Pittsburgh.

  • In CLASS="highlight"> 2016, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> made CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> mechanical CLASS="highlight"> change CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> delivery. CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> held CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> glove CLASS="highlight"> firmly CLASS="highlight"> above CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> belt, CLASS="highlight"> which CLASS="highlight"> enabled CLASS="highlight"> him CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> better CLASS="highlight"> locate CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> fastball CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> both CLASS="highlight"> sides CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> plate. CLASS="highlight"> Mitch CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> learning CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> effectively CLASS="highlight"> mix CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> curveball CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> changeup CLASS="highlight"> into CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> mix CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> complement CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> fastball, CLASS="highlight"> which CLASS="highlight"> consistently CLASS="highlight"> sits CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> 94-96 CLASS="highlight"> mph CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> tops CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> 98.

    “The CLASS="highlight"> hitters CLASS="highlight"> aren’t CLASS="highlight"> sitting CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> my CLASS="highlight"> fastball CLASS="highlight"> anymore,” CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> said. CLASS="highlight"> “They CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> doubt CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> their CLASS="highlight"> mind. CLASS="highlight"> They CLASS="highlight"> don’t CLASS="highlight"> know CLASS="highlight"> what’s CLASS="highlight"> coming. CLASS="highlight"> That CLASS="highlight"> gears CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> fastball, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> when CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> throw CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> off-speed CLASS="highlight"> stuff, CLASS="highlight"> they CLASS="highlight"> end CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> chasing CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> lot.”

  • Mitch CLASS="highlight"> comes CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> hitters CLASS="highlight"> from CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> nice CLASS="highlight"> downhill CLASS="highlight"> plane CLASS="highlight"> from CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> high CLASS="highlight"> three-quarters CLASS="highlight"> arm CLASS="highlight"> slot. CLASS="highlight"> It CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> an CLASS="highlight"> easy CLASS="highlight"> delivery CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> gives CLASS="highlight"> him CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> least CLASS="highlight"> average CLASS="highlight"> control CLASS="highlight"> (a CLASS="highlight"> 60 CLASS="highlight"> grade). CLASS="highlight"> His CLASS="highlight"> arm CLASS="highlight"> circle CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> some CLASS="highlight"> length, CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> wrist CLASS="highlight"> wrap CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> back, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> consistently CLASS="highlight"> throws CLASS="highlight"> strikes.

    He CLASS="highlight"> could CLASS="highlight"> stand CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> tighten CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> delivery CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> order CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> improve CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> control.

    "The CLASS="highlight"> key CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> been CLASS="highlight"> being CLASS="highlight"> able CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> command CLASS="highlight"> my CLASS="highlight"> fastball CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> throw CLASS="highlight"> changeups CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> different CLASS="highlight"> counts," CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> said. CLASS="highlight"> "That's CLASS="highlight"> been CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> main CLASS="highlight"> focus CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> me, CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> throw CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> changeup. CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> didn't CLASS="highlight"> throw CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> changeup CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> all CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> high CLASS="highlight"> school. CLASS="highlight"> It's CLASS="highlight"> made CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> huge CLASS="highlight"> difference CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> me."

    A CLASS="highlight"> native CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> Cedar CLASS="highlight"> Rapids, CLASS="highlight"> Iowa, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> grew CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> playing CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> game CLASS="highlight"> while CLASS="highlight"> admiring CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> brother CLASS="highlight"> Jon, CLASS="highlight"> who CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> three CLASS="highlight"> years CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> seven CLASS="highlight"> months CLASS="highlight"> older CLASS="highlight"> than CLASS="highlight"> Mitch. CLASS="highlight"> Jon CLASS="highlight"> pitched CLASS="highlight"> two CLASS="highlight"> years CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> University CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> Nebraska CLASS="highlight"> before CLASS="highlight"> transferring CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> University CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> Tampa. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> wound CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> signing CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> Baltimore's CLASS="highlight"> 22nd-round CLASS="highlight"> pick CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> 2013.

    "I CLASS="highlight"> watched CLASS="highlight"> my CLASS="highlight"> brother CLASS="highlight"> play CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> high CLASS="highlight"> school CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> then CLASS="highlight"> go CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> play CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> college," CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> said. CLASS="highlight"> "I CLASS="highlight"> always CLASS="highlight"> wanted CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> do CLASS="highlight"> that, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> then CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> got CLASS="highlight"> drafted. CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> guess CLASS="highlight"> I've CLASS="highlight"> always CLASS="highlight"> followed CLASS="highlight"> him CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> footsteps CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> now CLASS="highlight"> we're CLASS="highlight"> both CLASS="highlight"> playing CLASS="highlight"> Minor CLASS="highlight"> League CLASS="highlight"> Baseball. CLASS="highlight"> We CLASS="highlight"> talk CLASS="highlight"> just CLASS="highlight"> about CLASS="highlight"> every CLASS="highlight"> day, CLASS="highlight"> about CLASS="highlight"> anything CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> everything. CLASS="highlight"> In CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> offseason CLASS="highlight"> we CLASS="highlight"> work CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> together CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> throw CLASS="highlight"> together. CLASS="highlight"> It's CLASS="highlight"> helped CLASS="highlight"> us CLASS="highlight"> both CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> lot. CLASS="highlight"> We CLASS="highlight"> push CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> encourage CLASS="highlight"> one CLASS="highlight"> another. CLASS="highlight"> It's CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> great CLASS="highlight"> situation CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> both CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> us." CLASS="highlight"> (Bill CLASS="highlight"> Ballew CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> 6/30/2016)

  • Part CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> Keller’s CLASS="highlight"> struggles CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> 2018 CLASS="highlight"> came CLASS="highlight"> because CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> mechanical CLASS="highlight"> problems CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> backside CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> delivery CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> led CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> pitches CLASS="highlight"> coming CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> hand CLASS="highlight"> flat. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> focused CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> eliminating CLASS="highlight"> those CLASS="highlight"> problems CLASS="highlight"> late CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> season CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> still CLASS="highlight"> had CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> worst CLASS="highlight"> season CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> career CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> terms CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> command. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> missing CLASS="highlight"> too CLASS="highlight"> much CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> middle CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> plate. CLASS="highlight"> (Spring, CLASS="highlight"> 2019)

  • Mitch's CLASS="highlight"> Scouting CLASS="highlight"> Grades: CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 65 CLASS="highlight"> fastball, CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 60 CLASS="highlight"> curveball, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 50 CLASS="highlight"> changeup. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> also CLASS="highlight"> rates CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 60 CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> above-average CLASS="highlight"> control. CLASS="highlight"> (Spring, CLASS="highlight"> 2018)

  • He CLASS="highlight"> generates CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> lot CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> groundballs CLASS="highlight"> because CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> heater CLASS="highlight"> generates CLASS="highlight"> good CLASS="highlight"> sink.

  • Keller CLASS="highlight"> should CLASS="highlight"> develop CLASS="highlight"> into CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> #2, CLASS="highlight"> or CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> least CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> #3, CLASS="highlight"> big CLASS="highlight"> league CLASS="highlight"> starter.

  • 2018 CLASS="highlight"> Season: CLASS="highlight"> Over CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> course CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> two CLASS="highlight"> starts—on CLASS="highlight"> May CLASS="highlight"> 9 CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> May CLASS="highlight"> 26—Keller CLASS="highlight"> allowed CLASS="highlight"> 10 CLASS="highlight"> runs CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> 10.1 CLASS="highlight"> innings, CLASS="highlight"> allowing CLASS="highlight"> 18 CLASS="highlight"> hits CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> three CLASS="highlight"> home CLASS="highlight"> runs. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> allowed CLASS="highlight"> four CLASS="highlight"> earned CLASS="highlight"> runs CLASS="highlight"> or CLASS="highlight"> more CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> both CLASS="highlight"> starts, CLASS="highlight"> which CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> something CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> had CLASS="highlight"> done CLASS="highlight"> only CLASS="highlight"> once CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> pro CLASS="highlight"> career CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> point.

    But CLASS="highlight"> after CLASS="highlight"> those CLASS="highlight"> starts, CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> 6-foot-3, CLASS="highlight"> 195-pound CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> showed CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> ability CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> make CLASS="highlight"> adjustments, CLASS="highlight"> down CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> basics CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> mechanics. CLASS="highlight"> A CLASS="highlight"> lights-out CLASS="highlight"> June CLASS="highlight"> led CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Pirates CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> promote CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> 22-year-old CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> Triple-A CLASS="highlight"> Indianapolis CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> June CLASS="highlight"> 28. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> finished CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> time CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> Altoona CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 2.72 CLASS="highlight"> ERA CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> 76 CLASS="highlight"> strikeouts CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> 86 CLASS="highlight"> innings.

    “I CLASS="highlight"> think CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> important CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> him CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> couple CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> starts CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> weren’t CLASS="highlight"> great CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> understand CLASS="highlight"> what CLASS="highlight"> adjustments CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> needed CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> make,” CLASS="highlight"> farm CLASS="highlight"> director Larry CLASS="highlight"> Broadway said. CLASS="highlight"> “I CLASS="highlight"> think CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> got CLASS="highlight"> off CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> back CLASS="highlight"> side CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> little CLASS="highlight"> bit, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> when CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> does CLASS="highlight"> that, CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> ball CLASS="highlight"> gets CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> little CLASS="highlight"> flatter. CLASS="highlight"> It CLASS="highlight"> gets CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> elevated.

    Now, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> better CLASS="highlight"> able CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> self-correct CLASS="highlight"> delivery CLASS="highlight"> flaws. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> also CLASS="highlight"> picked CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> two-seam CLASS="highlight"> changeup CLASS="highlight"> grip CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> give CLASS="highlight"> him CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> pitch CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> complement CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> mid-90s CLASS="highlight"> fastball CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> plus CLASS="highlight"> 11-to-5 CLASS="highlight"> curveball. CLASS="highlight"> (Dustin CLASS="highlight"> Dopirak CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> Baseball CLASS="highlight"> America CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> 8/24/2018)

  • October CLASS="highlight"> 2018: CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> named CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> MLB CLASS="highlight"> Pipeline CLASS="highlight"> Pitcher CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Year CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Pirates.

  • Anticipating CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> first CLASS="highlight"> start CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Major CLASS="highlight"> Leagues, CLASS="highlight"> Mitch CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> following CLASS="highlight"> going CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> him CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> 2019.

    Fastball: CLASS="highlight"> During CLASS="highlight"> Keller’s CLASS="highlight"> struggles CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> 2018, CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> saw CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> velocity CLASS="highlight"> dip, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> it’s CLASS="highlight"> come CLASS="highlight"> back CLASS="highlight"> since. CLASS="highlight"> Outside CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> one CLASS="highlight"> stretch CLASS="highlight"> he’s CLASS="highlight"> consistently CLASS="highlight"> been CLASS="highlight"> able CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> touch CLASS="highlight"> 97-98 CLASS="highlight"> mph CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> fastball CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> sit CLASS="highlight"> 93-96 CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> good CLASS="highlight"> sink. CLASS="highlight"> If CLASS="highlight"> you CLASS="highlight"> saw CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Futures CLASS="highlight"> Game, CLASS="highlight"> you CLASS="highlight"> saw CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> velocity, CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> hit CLASS="highlight"> 99 CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> one CLASS="highlight"> inning CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> work. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> misses CLASS="highlight"> bats CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> gets CLASS="highlight"> weak CLASS="highlight"> contact CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> ground CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> well CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> pitch.

    Curveball: CLASS="highlight"> An CLASS="highlight"> excellent CLASS="highlight"> 11-to-5 CLASS="highlight"> breaker, CLASS="highlight"> this CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> Keller’s CLASS="highlight"> other CLASS="highlight"> strikeout CLASS="highlight"> pitch. CLASS="highlight"> It’s CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> true CLASS="highlight"> downer CLASS="highlight"> breaking CLASS="highlight"> ball CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> lot CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> bite. CLASS="highlight"> Look CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> him CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> lean CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> this CLASS="highlight"> pitch, CLASS="highlight"> which CLASS="highlight"> flashes CLASS="highlight"> plus CLASS="highlight"> often, CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> attack CLASS="highlight"> big CLASS="highlight"> league CLASS="highlight"> hitters.

    Slider: CLASS="highlight"> This CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> new CLASS="highlight"> pitch CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> he’s CLASS="highlight"> added CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> repertoire CLASS="highlight"> this CLASS="highlight"> year. CLASS="highlight"> It’s CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> cutter-like CLASS="highlight"> pitch CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> it’s CLASS="highlight"> been CLASS="highlight"> an CLASS="highlight"> effective CLASS="highlight"> weapon CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> him, CLASS="highlight"> giving CLASS="highlight"> advanced CLASS="highlight"> hitters CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> different CLASS="highlight"> look. CLASS="highlight"> It CLASS="highlight"> might CLASS="highlight"> be CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> Major CLASS="highlight"> League CLASS="highlight"> average CLASS="highlight"> offering CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> this CLASS="highlight"> point.

    Changeup: CLASS="highlight"> He’s CLASS="highlight"> worked CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> changeup CLASS="highlight"> quite CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> bit CLASS="highlight"> over CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> years CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> get CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> Major CLASS="highlight"> League CLASS="highlight"> average. CLASS="highlight"> It CLASS="highlight"> does CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> some CLASS="highlight"> fade CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> sink CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> it, CLASS="highlight"> eliciting CLASS="highlight"> some CLASS="highlight"> ground-ball CLASS="highlight"> outs, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> might CLASS="highlight"> be CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> fourth CLASS="highlight"> pitch CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> this CLASS="highlight"> point.

    Control: CLASS="highlight"> This CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> plus CLASS="highlight"> part CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> game CLASS="highlight"> until CLASS="highlight"> recently. CLASS="highlight"> His CLASS="highlight"> walk CLASS="highlight"> rate CLASS="highlight"> jumped CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> 2018 CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> 3.5 CLASS="highlight"> BB/9 CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> he’s CLASS="highlight"> walked CLASS="highlight"> 3.8 CLASS="highlight"> per CLASS="highlight"> nine CLASS="highlight"> so CLASS="highlight"> far CLASS="highlight"> this CLASS="highlight"> year. CLASS="highlight"> Still, CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> career CLASS="highlight"> mark CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> 2.9, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> he’s CLASS="highlight"> looked CLASS="highlight"> more CLASS="highlight"> like CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> old CLASS="highlight"> self CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> four CLASS="highlight"> May CLASS="highlight"> starts, CLASS="highlight"> walking CLASS="highlight"> just CLASS="highlight"> 2.45 CLASS="highlight"> per CLASS="highlight"> nine CLASS="highlight"> during CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> stretch. CLASS="highlight"> When CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> repeats CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> delivery CLASS="highlight"> well, CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> strike-thrower, CLASS="highlight"> one CLASS="highlight"> who CLASS="highlight"> eventually CLASS="highlight"> could CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> above-average CLASS="highlight"> overall CLASS="highlight"> command.  CLASS="highlight"> (Mayo CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> mlb.com CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> 5/26/19)

  • MLB CLASS="highlight"> debut CLASS="highlight"> (May CLASS="highlight"> 27, CLASS="highlight"> 2019): CLASS="highlight"> The CLASS="highlight"> Pirates CLASS="highlight"> had CLASS="highlight"> essentially CLASS="highlight"> knocked CLASS="highlight"> themselves CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> game CLASS="highlight"> by CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> end CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> first CLASS="highlight"> inning CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> Game CLASS="highlight"> 2 CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> their CLASS="highlight"> doubleheader CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Reds, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> there CLASS="highlight"> were CLASS="highlight"> still CLASS="highlight"> positives CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> draw CLASS="highlight"> from CLASS="highlight"> their CLASS="highlight"> 8-1 CLASS="highlight"> loss. CLASS="highlight"> The CLASS="highlight"> main CLASS="highlight"> takeaway? CLASS="highlight"> Rookie CLASS="highlight"> Mitch CLASS="highlight"> Keller, CLASS="highlight"> making CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> Major CLASS="highlight"> League CLASS="highlight"> debut CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> spot CLASS="highlight"> starter CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> this CLASS="highlight"> twin CLASS="highlight"> bill CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> Great CLASS="highlight"> American CLASS="highlight"> Ball CLASS="highlight"> Park, CLASS="highlight"> pitched CLASS="highlight"> well CLASS="highlight"> after CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> mostly CLASS="highlight"> disastrous CLASS="highlight"> opening CLASS="highlight"> inning.

    “The CLASS="highlight"> entire CLASS="highlight"> volume CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> work, CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> saw CLASS="highlight"> improvement,” CLASS="highlight"> manager CLASS="highlight"> Clint CLASS="highlight"> Hurdle CLASS="highlight"> said. CLASS="highlight"> “He CLASS="highlight"> got CLASS="highlight"> punched CLASS="highlight"> hard CLASS="highlight"> early. CLASS="highlight"> And CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> hole CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> awful CLASS="highlight"> deep CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> dug. CLASS="highlight"> From CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> point CLASS="highlight"> on, CLASS="highlight"> everything CLASS="highlight"> got CLASS="highlight"> better. CLASS="highlight"> The CLASS="highlight"> fastball CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> up, CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> breaking CLASS="highlight"> ball CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> up, CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> changeup CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> up. CLASS="highlight"> They CLASS="highlight"> hit CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> hard. CLASS="highlight"> After CLASS="highlight"> that, CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> responded CLASS="highlight"> well.”

    The CLASS="highlight"> Pirates CLASS="highlight"> placed CLASS="highlight"> no CLASS="highlight"> inflated CLASS="highlight"> expectations CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> their CLASS="highlight"> prized CLASS="highlight"> pitcher, CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> club’s CLASS="highlight"> No. CLASS="highlight"> 1 CLASS="highlight"> prospect, CLASS="highlight"> according CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> MLB CLASS="highlight"> Pipeline, CLASS="highlight"> when CLASS="highlight"> they CLASS="highlight"> announced CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> would CLASS="highlight"> start CLASS="highlight"> Game CLASS="highlight"> 2. CLASS="highlight"> In CLASS="highlight"> fact, CLASS="highlight"> they CLASS="highlight"> made CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> clear CLASS="highlight"> ahead CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> time CLASS="highlight"> this CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> probably CLASS="highlight"> too CLASS="highlight"> early CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> Keller’s CLASS="highlight"> development CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> promotion, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> this CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> happening CLASS="highlight"> only CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> necessity—their CLASS="highlight"> rotation CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> bullpen CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> been CLASS="highlight"> severely CLASS="highlight"> affected CLASS="highlight"> by CLASS="highlight"> injury CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> inconsistency, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> they CLASS="highlight"> needed CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> dip CLASS="highlight"> into CLASS="highlight"> their CLASS="highlight"> system CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> starter CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> help CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> during CLASS="highlight"> what CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> surely CLASS="highlight"> going CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> be CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> very CLASS="highlight"> long CLASS="highlight"> day CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> ballpark.

    And CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> first, CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> looked CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> if CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> may CLASS="highlight"> not CLASS="highlight"> make CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> opening CLASS="highlight"> frame, CLASS="highlight"> which CLASS="highlight"> could CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> spelled CLASS="highlight"> disaster CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Pirates. CLASS="highlight"> They CLASS="highlight"> used CLASS="highlight"> four CLASS="highlight"> relievers CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> their CLASS="highlight"> Game CLASS="highlight"> 1 CLASS="highlight"> win, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> even CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> extra CLASS="highlight"> arm CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> 'pen CLASS="highlight"> due CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> 26th CLASS="highlight"> man CLASS="highlight"> rule, CLASS="highlight"> absorbing CLASS="highlight"> seven CLASS="highlight"> or CLASS="highlight"> eight CLASS="highlight"> innings CLASS="highlight"> would CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> been CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> struggle CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> any CLASS="highlight"> team, CLASS="highlight"> doubleheader CLASS="highlight"> or CLASS="highlight"> not.

    But CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> settled CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> well, CLASS="highlight"> retiring CLASS="highlight"> eight CLASS="highlight"> batters CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> row CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> allowing CLASS="highlight"> just CLASS="highlight"> one CLASS="highlight"> hit CLASS="highlight"> over CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> final CLASS="highlight"> three CLASS="highlight"> frames.

    “I CLASS="highlight"> think CLASS="highlight"> just CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> first CLASS="highlight"> inning, CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> little CLASS="highlight"> amped CLASS="highlight"> up,” CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> said. CLASS="highlight"> “My CLASS="highlight"> off-speed CLASS="highlight"> pitches CLASS="highlight"> weren't CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> crisp CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> second, CLASS="highlight"> third CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> fourth CLASS="highlight"> innings. CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> think CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> main CLASS="highlight"> thing. CLASS="highlight"> My CLASS="highlight"> fastball CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> first CLASS="highlight"> inning CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> pretty CLASS="highlight"> much CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> way CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> whole CLASS="highlight"> game.”

    Keller, CLASS="highlight"> pitching CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> front CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> nearly CLASS="highlight"> 40 CLASS="highlight"> friends CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> family CLASS="highlight"> who CLASS="highlight"> made CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> trek CLASS="highlight"> from CLASS="highlight"> Iowa CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> watch CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> debut, CLASS="highlight"> faced CLASS="highlight"> 11 CLASS="highlight"> batters CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> first CLASS="highlight"> inning. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> issued CLASS="highlight"> walks CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> two CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> first CLASS="highlight"> three, CLASS="highlight"> before CLASS="highlight"> logging CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> first CLASS="highlight"> Major CLASS="highlight"> League CLASS="highlight"> out—a CLASS="highlight"> strikeout CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> cleanup CLASS="highlight"> hitter CLASS="highlight"> Derek CLASS="highlight"> Dietrich. CLASS="highlight"> The CLASS="highlight"> dagger CLASS="highlight"> arrived CLASS="highlight"> two CLASS="highlight"> batters CLASS="highlight"> later, CLASS="highlight"> when CLASS="highlight"> Jose CLASS="highlight"> Iglesias CLASS="highlight"> launched CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> grand CLASS="highlight"> slam, CLASS="highlight"> putting CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Reds CLASS="highlight"> ahead, CLASS="highlight"> 5-0.

    “Changeup,” CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> said CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> pitch CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> Iglesias. CLASS="highlight"> “Just CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> bad CLASS="highlight"> changeup.”

    But CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> needed CLASS="highlight"> just CLASS="highlight"> 12 CLASS="highlight"> pitches CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> retire CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> side CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> second, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> ended CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> 85-pitch CLASS="highlight"> outing CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> seven CLASS="highlight"> strikeouts.

    The CLASS="highlight"> performance CLASS="highlight"> impressed CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> least CLASS="highlight"> one CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> hitters CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> faced.

    “He’s CLASS="highlight"> good. CLASS="highlight"> He’s CLASS="highlight"> got CLASS="highlight"> good CLASS="highlight"> stuff,” CLASS="highlight"> Dietrich CLASS="highlight"> said. CLASS="highlight"> “There’s CLASS="highlight"> no CLASS="highlight"> doubt CLASS="highlight"> about CLASS="highlight"> it. CLASS="highlight"> You CLASS="highlight"> saw CLASS="highlight"> some CLASS="highlight"> flashes. CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> didn’t CLASS="highlight"> see CLASS="highlight"> him CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> first CLASS="highlight"> at-bat CLASS="highlight"> very CLASS="highlight"> well. CLASS="highlight"> The CLASS="highlight"> second CLASS="highlight"> at-bat, CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> like CLASS="highlight"> ‘one, CLASS="highlight"> two, CLASS="highlight"> three CLASS="highlight"> [snaps CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> fingers]’ CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> just CLASS="highlight"> dotted CLASS="highlight"> three CLASS="highlight"> different CLASS="highlight"> pitches.

    “He CLASS="highlight"> showed CLASS="highlight"> flashes CLASS="highlight"> like CLASS="highlight"> he’s CLASS="highlight"> got CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> stuff. CLASS="highlight"> Once CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> settles CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> finds CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> routine CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> everything CLASS="highlight"> falls CLASS="highlight"> into CLASS="highlight"> place, CLASS="highlight"> he’ll CLASS="highlight"> probably CLASS="highlight"> be CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> top-of-the-line CLASS="highlight"> starter CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> them. CLASS="highlight"> Tough CLASS="highlight"> first CLASS="highlight"> go CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> him, CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> course. CLASS="highlight"> At CLASS="highlight"> least CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> got CLASS="highlight"> me CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> first CLASS="highlight"> K, CLASS="highlight"> which CLASS="highlight"> sucks CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> me CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> him, CLASS="highlight"> it’s CLASS="highlight"> all CLASS="highlight"> good.”

    Keller CLASS="highlight"> threw CLASS="highlight"> north CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> 40 CLASS="highlight"> pitches CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> opening CLASS="highlight"> frame, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> had CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> not CLASS="highlight"> struck CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> Jesse CLASS="highlight"> Winker CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> end CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> rally, CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> probably CLASS="highlight"> would CLASS="highlight"> not CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> been CLASS="highlight"> given CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> chance CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> go CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> second.

    Instead, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> stayed CLASS="highlight"> in, CLASS="highlight"> which CLASS="highlight"> shaved CLASS="highlight"> several CLASS="highlight"> innings CLASS="highlight"> off CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> bullpen’s CLASS="highlight"> workload.

    “The CLASS="highlight"> man's CLASS="highlight"> got CLASS="highlight"> an CLASS="highlight"> arm CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> you’ve CLASS="highlight"> got CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> take CLASS="highlight"> care CLASS="highlight"> of,” CLASS="highlight"> Hurdle CLASS="highlight"> said. CLASS="highlight"> “Winker’s CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> last CLASS="highlight"> hitter. CLASS="highlight"> If CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> doesn't CLASS="highlight"> get CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> guy CLASS="highlight"> out, CLASS="highlight"> he's CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> game, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> we CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> make CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> seven CLASS="highlight"> innings. CLASS="highlight"> We've CLASS="highlight"> got CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> find CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> way CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> patch CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> together, CLASS="highlight"> which CLASS="highlight"> we CLASS="highlight"> would CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> done. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> got CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> man CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> moved CLASS="highlight"> on. CLASS="highlight"> There CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> resilience, CLASS="highlight"> there CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> fight CLASS="highlight"> back.”

  • June CLASS="highlight"> 7, CLASS="highlight"> 2019: CLASS="highlight"> The CLASS="highlight"> Pirates CLASS="highlight"> No. CLASS="highlight"> 1 CLASS="highlight"> prospect CLASS="highlight"> Mitch CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> had CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> night CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> remember, CLASS="highlight"> when CLASS="highlight"> each CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> first CLASS="highlight"> 12 CLASS="highlight"> outs CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> recorded CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> Triple-A CLASS="highlight"> Indianapolis CLASS="highlight"> against CLASS="highlight"> Toledo CLASS="highlight"> came CLASS="highlight"> via CLASS="highlight"> strikeout.

    The CLASS="highlight"> No. CLASS="highlight"> 18 CLASS="highlight"> overall CLASS="highlight"> prospect CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> baseball, CLASS="highlight"> according CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> MLB CLASS="highlight"> Pipeline, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> finished CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> 13 CLASS="highlight"> strikeouts CLASS="highlight"> over CLASS="highlight"> five CLASS="highlight"> innings. CLASS="highlight"> The CLASS="highlight"> 23-year-old CLASS="highlight"> yielded CLASS="highlight"> one CLASS="highlight"> hit CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> walked CLASS="highlight"> three, CLASS="highlight"> lowering CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> season CLASS="highlight"> ERA CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> 3.10 CLASS="highlight"> over CLASS="highlight"> 11 CLASS="highlight"> starts.

  • Aug CLASS="highlight"> 12, CLASS="highlight"> 2019: CLASS="highlight"> In CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> first CLASS="highlight"> start CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> second CLASS="highlight"> Major CLASS="highlight"> League CLASS="highlight"> stint, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> allowed CLASS="highlight"> two CLASS="highlight"> runs CLASS="highlight"> (one CLASS="highlight"> earned) CLASS="highlight"> over CLASS="highlight"> five CLASS="highlight"> innings CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> backed CLASS="highlight"> by CLASS="highlight"> four CLASS="highlight"> home CLASS="highlight"> runs CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 10-2, CLASS="highlight"> skid-ending CLASS="highlight"> victory. CLASS="highlight"> Pittsburgh’s CLASS="highlight"> top CLASS="highlight"> prospect CLASS="highlight"> gave CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> five CLASS="highlight"> hits, CLASS="highlight"> two CLASS="highlight"> walks CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> hit CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> batter CLASS="highlight"> while CLASS="highlight"> striking CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> four.

    “It’s CLASS="highlight"> incredible,” CLASS="highlight"> said CLASS="highlight"> Keller. CLASS="highlight"> “Growing CLASS="highlight"> up, CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> would CLASS="highlight"> never CLASS="highlight"> picture CLASS="highlight"> being CLASS="highlight"> here, CLASS="highlight"> where CLASS="highlight"> I’m CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> right CLASS="highlight"> now. CLASS="highlight"> It CLASS="highlight"> feels CLASS="highlight"> good CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> get CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> first CLASS="highlight"> [win] CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> way. CLASS="highlight"> Hopefully, CLASS="highlight"> many CLASS="highlight"> more CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> come, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> this CLASS="highlight"> team, CLASS="highlight"> hopefully CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> lot CLASS="highlight"> more CLASS="highlight"> success.”

    “I CLASS="highlight"> don’t CLASS="highlight"> know CLASS="highlight"> if CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> felt CLASS="highlight"> really CLASS="highlight"> anything CLASS="highlight"> different. CLASS="highlight"> It CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> just CLASS="highlight"> kind CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> confidence CLASS="highlight"> thing,” CLASS="highlight"> said CLASS="highlight"> Keller. CLASS="highlight"> “I CLASS="highlight"> know CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> belong CLASS="highlight"> here, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> know CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> can CLASS="highlight"> do CLASS="highlight"> it. CLASS="highlight"> It’s CLASS="highlight"> just CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> mindset CLASS="highlight"> of, CLASS="highlight"> ‘Here’s CLASS="highlight"> my CLASS="highlight"> best CLASS="highlight"> stuff. CLASS="highlight"> Try CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> hit CLASS="highlight"> it.’”

    It CLASS="highlight"> helped CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> had CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> lead CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> work CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> before CLASS="highlight"> even CLASS="highlight"> setting CLASS="highlight"> foot CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> mound, CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> teammates CLASS="highlight"> taking CLASS="highlight"> advantage CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> some CLASS="highlight"> sloppy CLASS="highlight"> Angels CLASS="highlight"> defense CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> put CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> three-spot CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> top CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> first. CLASS="highlight"> It CLASS="highlight"> turned CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> be CLASS="highlight"> all CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> would CLASS="highlight"> need.

    “Whenever CLASS="highlight"> we’re CLASS="highlight"> scoring CLASS="highlight"> runs CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> awesome CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> starting CLASS="highlight"> pitcher, CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> sure,” CLASS="highlight"> said CLASS="highlight"> Keller. CLASS="highlight"> “Going CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> there CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> three-run CLASS="highlight"> lead CLASS="highlight"> right CLASS="highlight"> off CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> bat CLASS="highlight"> there. CLASS="highlight"> It CLASS="highlight"> doesn’t CLASS="highlight"> change CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> way CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> pitching. CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> would’ve CLASS="highlight"> pitched CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> same CLASS="highlight"> way CLASS="highlight"> if CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> 0-0 CLASS="highlight"> going CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> there. CLASS="highlight"> But, CLASS="highlight"> yeah, CLASS="highlight"> it’s CLASS="highlight"> definitely CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> good CLASS="highlight"> feeling, CLASS="highlight"> all CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> time.” CLASS="highlight"> (S CLASS="highlight"> Wexler CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> MLB.com CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> Aug CLASS="highlight"> 13, CLASS="highlight"> 2019)

  • August CLASS="highlight"> 27, CLASS="highlight"> 2019: CLASS="highlight"> The CLASS="highlight"> honor CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> neat CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> recognition CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> appreciated, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> Mitch CLASS="highlight"> had CLASS="highlight"> bigger CLASS="highlight"> goals CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> mind CLASS="highlight"> after CLASS="highlight"> being CLASS="highlight"> named CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> International CLASS="highlight"> League’s CLASS="highlight"> Most CLASS="highlight"> Valuable CLASS="highlight"> Pitcher.

    “It’s CLASS="highlight"> really CLASS="highlight"> cool. CLASS="highlight"> Hopefully CLASS="highlight"> I’ll CLASS="highlight"> get CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> award CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> here CLASS="highlight"> someday,” CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> said. CLASS="highlight"> “It’s CLASS="highlight"> cool CLASS="highlight"> just CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> be CLASS="highlight"> recognized CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> all CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> hard CLASS="highlight"> work CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> everything CLASS="highlight"> I’ve CLASS="highlight"> done CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> get CLASS="highlight"> myself CLASS="highlight"> here. CLASS="highlight"> It’s CLASS="highlight"> awesome.”

    Keller CLASS="highlight"> led CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Triple-A CLASS="highlight"> International CLASS="highlight"> League CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> ERA CLASS="highlight"> (3.56) CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> strikeouts CLASS="highlight"> (123) CLASS="highlight"> when CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> promoted CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Pirates’ CLASS="highlight"> rotation CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> Aug. CLASS="highlight"> 12. CLASS="highlight"> Overall, CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> went CLASS="highlight"> 7-5 CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> Indianapolis, CLASS="highlight"> while CLASS="highlight"> posting CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 1.24 CLASS="highlight"> WHIP CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> holding CLASS="highlight"> opponents CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> .243 CLASS="highlight"> batting CLASS="highlight"> average CLASS="highlight"> over CLASS="highlight"> 19 CLASS="highlight"> starts.

  • Keller CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> how CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> developed CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> slider: “When CLASS="highlight"> Joe CLASS="highlight"> Musgrove CLASS="highlight"> came CLASS="highlight"> down CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> Double-A CLASS="highlight"> last CLASS="highlight"> year CLASS="highlight"> [on CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> rehab CLASS="highlight"> assignment], CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> kind CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> bounced CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> cutter-slider CLASS="highlight"> idea CLASS="highlight"> off CLASS="highlight"> me. CLASS="highlight"> Before CLASS="highlight"> that, CLASS="highlight"> I’d CLASS="highlight"> never CLASS="highlight"> even CLASS="highlight"> thought CLASS="highlight"> about CLASS="highlight"> throwing CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> slider. CLASS="highlight"> We CLASS="highlight"> were CLASS="highlight"> playing CLASS="highlight"> catch. CLASS="highlight"> Me CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> him CLASS="highlight"> were CLASS="highlight"> throwing CLASS="highlight"> partners CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> day, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> throwing CLASS="highlight"> one. CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> like, CLASS="highlight"> ‘Dang, CLASS="highlight"> that’s CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> pretty CLASS="highlight"> good CLASS="highlight"> pitch; CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> want CLASS="highlight"> something CLASS="highlight"> like CLASS="highlight"> that.’

    After CLASS="highlight"> we CLASS="highlight"> were CLASS="highlight"> done, CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> talked CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> him CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> got CLASS="highlight"> an CLASS="highlight"> idea. CLASS="highlight"> So, CLASS="highlight"> last CLASS="highlight"> off-season, CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> started CLASS="highlight"> trying CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> throw CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> cutter. CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> worked CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> spring CLASS="highlight"> training, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> didn’t CLASS="highlight"> really CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> one CLASS="highlight"> when CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> got CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> [Triple-A] CLASS="highlight"> Indianapolis. CLASS="highlight"> But CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> talked CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> Alex CLASS="highlight"> McRae CLASS="highlight"> about CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> CLASS="highlight"> he’s CLASS="highlight"> got CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> really CLASS="highlight"> good CLASS="highlight"> cutter-slider CLASS="highlight"> type CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> pitch CLASS="highlight"> CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> kind CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> learned CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> from CLASS="highlight"> him, CLASS="highlight"> honestly. CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> probably CLASS="highlight"> started CLASS="highlight"> throwing CLASS="highlight"> one CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> my CLASS="highlight"> second CLASS="highlight"> or CLASS="highlight"> third CLASS="highlight"> start, CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> Indy. CLASS="highlight"> I’ve CLASS="highlight"> been CLASS="highlight"> using CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> ever CLASS="highlight"> since, CLASS="highlight"> although CLASS="highlight"> it’s CLASS="highlight"> definitely CLASS="highlight"> changed. CLASS="highlight"> It’s CLASS="highlight"> not CLASS="highlight"> even CLASS="highlight"> close CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> what CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> first. CLASS="highlight"> At CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> beginning CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> year CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> kind CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> like CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> cutter CLASS="highlight"> CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> didn’t CLASS="highlight"> really CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> much CLASS="highlight"> depth CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> then CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> started CLASS="highlight"> trying CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> use CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> more CLASS="highlight"> like CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> wipeout CLASS="highlight"> slider.

    “I CLASS="highlight"> don’t CLASS="highlight"> know CLASS="highlight"> if CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> can CLASS="highlight"> really CLASS="highlight"> explain CLASS="highlight"> how. CLASS="highlight"> It’s CLASS="highlight"> kind CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> feel CLASS="highlight"> thing. CLASS="highlight"> There’s CLASS="highlight"> kind CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> mental CLASS="highlight"> cue CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> have, CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> get CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> front CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> rip CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> down. CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> guess CLASS="highlight"> that’s CLASS="highlight"> what CLASS="highlight"> goes CLASS="highlight"> through CLASS="highlight"> my CLASS="highlight"> mind CLASS="highlight"> when CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> think CLASS="highlight"> about CLASS="highlight"> throwing CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> really CLASS="highlight"> good CLASS="highlight"> one. CLASS="highlight"> So CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> still CLASS="highlight"> throw CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> hard CLASS="highlight"> [87-92 CLASS="highlight"> mph], CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> it’s CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> slider. CLASS="highlight"> In CLASS="highlight"> my CLASS="highlight"> mind, CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> cut CLASS="highlight"> fastball CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> subtle CLASS="highlight"> kind CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> cut CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> it, CLASS="highlight"> while CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> slider CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> more CLASS="highlight"> depth. CLASS="highlight"> That’s CLASS="highlight"> how CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> use CLASS="highlight"> it, CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> more CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> depth CLASS="highlight"> pitch.

    “Developing CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> been CLASS="highlight"> kind CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> trial CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> error. CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> bounced CLASS="highlight"> grips CLASS="highlight"> off CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> guys, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> I’m CLASS="highlight"> kind CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> still CLASS="highlight"> working CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> grips, CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> be CLASS="highlight"> honest. CLASS="highlight"> Maybe CLASS="highlight"> something CLASS="highlight"> here CLASS="highlight"> or CLASS="highlight"> there CLASS="highlight"> will CLASS="highlight"> help CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> little CLASS="highlight"> bit, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> will CLASS="highlight"> become CLASS="highlight"> more CLASS="highlight"> consistent. CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> thrown CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> front CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> Rapsodo CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> an CLASS="highlight"> Edgertronic. CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> used CLASS="highlight"> one CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> off-season, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> we CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> one CLASS="highlight"> here, CLASS="highlight"> too. CLASS="highlight"> It’s CLASS="highlight"> been CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> big CLASS="highlight"> help CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> me. CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> like CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> visual CLASS="highlight"> picture CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> what CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> ball CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> doing, CLASS="highlight"> what CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> puts CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> my CLASS="highlight"> brain. CLASS="highlight"> I’m CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> visual CLASS="highlight"> learner.” CLASS="highlight"> (David CLASS="highlight"> Laurila CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> Fangraphs CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> November CLASS="highlight"> 5, CLASS="highlight"> 2019)

  • In CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> 2019 CLASS="highlight"> rookie CLASS="highlight"> season, CLASS="highlight"> Mitch CLASS="highlight"> had CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 7.13 CLASS="highlight"> ERA CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> go CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 3.19 CLASS="highlight"> FIP. CLASS="highlight"> But CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> 2020, CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> had CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 2.91 CLASS="highlight"> ERA CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> go CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 6.75 CLASS="highlight"> FIP.

  • 2019 CLASS="highlight"> Season CLASS="highlight"> Pitch CLASS="highlight"> Usage: CLASS="highlight"> 4-seam CLASS="highlight"> Fastball CLASS="highlight"> 59.5% CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> time, CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> Change CLASS="highlight"> 3.7%; CLASS="highlight"> Slider CLASS="highlight"> 20.9%; CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> Curveball CLASS="highlight"> 15.9% CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> time. CLASS="highlight"> Average CLASS="highlight"> velocity: CLASS="highlight"> 4-seam CLASS="highlight"> 95.5 CLASS="highlight"> mph, CLASS="highlight"> Change CLASS="highlight"> 91.2, CLASS="highlight"> Slider CLASS="highlight"> 87.8, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> Curve CLASS="highlight"> 81.2 CLASS="highlight"> mph.

  • 2020 CLASS="highlight"> Season CLASS="highlight"> Pitch CLASS="highlight"> Usage: CLASS="highlight"> 4-seam CLASS="highlight"> Fastball CLASS="highlight"> 55.9% CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> time, CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> Change CLASS="highlight"> 3.1%; CLASS="highlight"> Slider CLASS="highlight"> 21.7%; CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> Curveball CLASS="highlight"> 19.3% CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> time. CLASS="highlight"> Average CLASS="highlight"> velocity: CLASS="highlight"> 4-seam CLASS="highlight"> 94.3 CLASS="highlight"> mph, CLASS="highlight"> Change CLASS="highlight"> 89.1, CLASS="highlight"> Slider CLASS="highlight"> 87.3, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> Curve CLASS="highlight"> 78.5 CLASS="highlight"> mph.
  • Keller CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 93-99 CLASS="highlight"> mph CLASS="highlight"> FASTBALL CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> excellent CLASS="highlight"> late-sinking, CLASS="highlight"> generating CLASS="highlight"> weak CLASS="highlight"> contact CLASS="highlight"> or CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> swinging CLASS="highlight"> strikes. CLASS="highlight"> Mitch CLASS="highlight"> also CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> big CLASS="highlight"> 12-to-6 CLASS="highlight"> CURVEBALL CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> hard, CLASS="highlight"> downer CLASS="highlight"> bite CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> can CLASS="highlight"> vary CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> speed CLASS="highlight"> of. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> added CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> SLIDER CLASS="highlight"> early CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> 2019 CLASS="highlight"> because CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> issues CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> Keller’s CLASS="highlight"> changeup, CLASS="highlight"> which CLASS="highlight"> flashes CLASS="highlight"> average CLASS="highlight"> potential CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> fade, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> largely CLASS="highlight"> been CLASS="highlight"> inconsistent CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> ineffective. CLASS="highlight"> And CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> some CLASS="highlight"> feel CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> 88-91 CLASS="highlight"> mph CLASS="highlight"> CHANGEUP CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> can CLASS="highlight"> locate CLASS="highlight"> well.

    Even CLASS="highlight"> when CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> struggling, CLASS="highlight"> Keller's CLASS="highlight"> pure CLASS="highlight"> stuff CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> plenty CLASS="highlight"> good CLASS="highlight"> enough. CLASS="highlight"> He'll CLASS="highlight"> throw CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> heater CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> good CLASS="highlight"> heavy CLASS="highlight"> sink CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> get CLASS="highlight"> ground-ball CLASS="highlight"> outs CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> he'll CLASS="highlight"> also CLASS="highlight"> miss CLASS="highlight"> bats CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> it. CLASS="highlight"> His CLASS="highlight"> 11-to-5 CLASS="highlight"> power CLASS="highlight"> curve CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> another CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> pitch CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> him, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> actually CLASS="highlight"> threw CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> newer CLASS="highlight"> slider CLASS="highlight"> more CLASS="highlight"> once CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> big CLASS="highlight"> leagues CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> became CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> good CLASS="highlight"> weapon CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> him, CLASS="highlight"> especially CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> end CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> 2019 CLASS="highlight"> season. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> will CLASS="highlight"> need CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> throw CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> changeup CLASS="highlight"> more CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> establishes CLASS="highlight"> himself, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> it's CLASS="highlight"> an CLASS="highlight"> average CLASS="highlight"> off-speed CLASS="highlight"> pitch.

    Keller CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> struggled CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> command CLASS="highlight"> over CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> last CLASS="highlight"> couple CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> seasons, CLASS="highlight"> both CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> terms CLASS="highlight"> getting CLASS="highlight"> too CLASS="highlight"> much CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> strike CLASS="highlight"> zone CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> an CLASS="highlight"> increased CLASS="highlight"> walk CLASS="highlight"> rate, CLASS="highlight"> though CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> bit CLASS="highlight"> better CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> 2019 CLASS="highlight"> overall. CLASS="highlight"> At CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> end CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> year, CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> quality CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> strikes CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> much CLASS="highlight"> better, CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> overall CLASS="highlight"> execution CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> pitches, CLASS="highlight"> something CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Pirates CLASS="highlight"> are CLASS="highlight"> confident CLASS="highlight"> will CLASS="highlight"> carry CLASS="highlight"> over CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> 2020. CLASS="highlight"> (Spring CLASS="highlight"> 2020)

  • Mitch's CLASS="highlight"> Fastball CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> 70 CLASS="highlight"> grade. CLASS="highlight"> His CLASS="highlight"> Curve CLASS="highlight"> gets CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 60, CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> does CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> Slider. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> only CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 45 CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> Changeup. CLASS="highlight"> But CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> Controls CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 60.

    Mitch CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> big CLASS="highlight"> stuff CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> throws CLASS="highlight"> strikes, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> often CLASS="highlight"> gets CLASS="highlight"> too CLASS="highlight"> much CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> plate CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> struggles CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> sequencing. CLASS="highlight"> (Tim CLASS="highlight"> Williams CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> BA CLASS="highlight"> Prospect CLASS="highlight"> Handbook CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> Spring CLASS="highlight"> 2020)

  • In CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> minors, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> recorded CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 3.12 CLASS="highlight"> ERA CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> 1.16 CLASS="highlight"> WHIP CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 3.33 CLASS="highlight"> strikeout-to-walk CLASS="highlight"> ratio CLASS="highlight"> from CLASS="highlight"> 2014-2019. CLASS="highlight"> And CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> did CLASS="highlight"> so CLASS="highlight"> convincingly CLASS="highlight"> enough CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> consistently CLASS="highlight"> register CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> one CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Top CLASS="highlight"> 50 CLASS="highlight"> prospects CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> baseball CLASS="highlight"> over CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> past CLASS="highlight"> three CLASS="highlight"> years. CLASS="highlight"> Amid CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> struggles CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Majors, CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> struck CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> 28.6 CLASS="highlight"> percent CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> batters CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> faced CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> walked CLASS="highlight"> only CLASS="highlight"> 7 CLASS="highlight"> percent.

    The CLASS="highlight"> 6-foot-2 CLASS="highlight"> righthander CLASS="highlight"> still CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> front-of-the-rotation CLASS="highlight"> potential. CLASS="highlight"> And CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> knows CLASS="highlight"> it, CLASS="highlight"> too. CLASS="highlight"> Whenever CLASS="highlight"> baseball CLASS="highlight"> returns, CLASS="highlight"> it's CLASS="highlight"> easy CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> imagine CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> taking CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> massive CLASS="highlight"> step CLASS="highlight"> forward CLASS="highlight"> just CLASS="highlight"> due CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> better CLASS="highlight"> pitch-sequencing CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> anything CLASS="highlight"> less CLASS="highlight"> than CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> catastrophically CLASS="highlight"> bad CLASS="highlight"> batted-ball CLASS="highlight"> luck CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> endured CLASS="highlight"> last CLASS="highlight"> season. CLASS="highlight"> Working CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> pitching CLASS="highlight"> coach CLASS="highlight"> Oscar CLASS="highlight"> Marin CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> bullpen CLASS="highlight"> coach CLASS="highlight"> Justin CLASS="highlight"> Meccage, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> learned CLASS="highlight"> this CLASS="highlight"> spring CLASS="highlight"> how CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> make CLASS="highlight"> better CLASS="highlight"> use CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> fastball, CLASS="highlight"> slider CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> curveball.

    Simply CLASS="highlight"> put, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> much CLASS="highlight"> better CLASS="highlight"> than CLASS="highlight"> 2019's CLASS="highlight"> numbers CLASS="highlight"> would CLASS="highlight"> indicate CLASS="highlight"> (1-5 CLASS="highlight"> record CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> 7.13 CLASS="highlight"> ERA CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> 11 CLASS="highlight"> starts). CLASS="highlight"> As CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> told CLASS="highlight"> MLB.com, CLASS="highlight"> "Ultimately, CLASS="highlight"> one CLASS="highlight"> day CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> want CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> be CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> ace, CLASS="highlight"> so CLASS="highlight"> that's CLASS="highlight"> what CLASS="highlight"> I'm CLASS="highlight"> trying CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> be CLASS="highlight"> right CLASS="highlight"> now." CLASS="highlight"> (Adam CLASS="highlight"> Berry CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> MLB.com CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> April CLASS="highlight"> 2, CLASS="highlight"> 2020)

  • 2020 CLASS="highlight"> Improvements: CLASS="highlight"> Mitch CLASS="highlight"> referred CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> past CLASS="highlight"> few CLASS="highlight"> months CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> “second CLASS="highlight"> off-season” CLASS="highlight"> twice, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Pirates’ CLASS="highlight"> top CLASS="highlight"> prospect CLASS="highlight"> didn’t CLASS="highlight"> actually CLASS="highlight"> take CLASS="highlight"> much CLASS="highlight"> time CLASS="highlight"> off.

    While CLASS="highlight"> baseball CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> shut CLASS="highlight"> down CLASS="highlight"> due CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> coronavirus CLASS="highlight"> pandemic, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> assigned CLASS="highlight"> himself CLASS="highlight"> two CLASS="highlight"> pitching CLASS="highlight"> projects. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> wanted CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> improve CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> fastball’s CLASS="highlight"> spin CLASS="highlight"> direction CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> spin CLASS="highlight"> efficiency, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> set CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> find CLASS="highlight"> an CLASS="highlight"> effective CLASS="highlight"> changeup. CLASS="highlight"> Armed CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> own CLASS="highlight"> Rapsodo CLASS="highlight"> inside CLASS="highlight"> an CLASS="highlight"> empty CLASS="highlight"> facility CLASS="highlight"> near CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> home CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> Iowa, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> went CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> work.

    "That CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> main CLASS="highlight"> point CLASS="highlight"> when CLASS="highlight"> going CLASS="highlight"> back CLASS="highlight"> home. CLASS="highlight"> We CLASS="highlight"> don't CLASS="highlight"> want CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> lose CLASS="highlight"> anything CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> we CLASS="highlight"> had CLASS="highlight"> gained, CLASS="highlight"> because CLASS="highlight"> we CLASS="highlight"> made CLASS="highlight"> some CLASS="highlight"> good CLASS="highlight"> strides CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> Spring CLASS="highlight"> Training,” CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> said CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> Zoom CLASS="highlight"> call. CLASS="highlight"> “We CLASS="highlight"> didn't CLASS="highlight"> want CLASS="highlight"> this CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> be CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> setback. CLASS="highlight"> We CLASS="highlight"> wanted CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> be CLASS="highlight"> able CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> use CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> point CLASS="highlight"> where CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> can CLASS="highlight"> go CLASS="highlight"> forward, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> think CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> really CLASS="highlight"> used CLASS="highlight"> this CLASS="highlight"> time CLASS="highlight"> back CLASS="highlight"> home CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> further CLASS="highlight"> my CLASS="highlight"> game.”

    Keller CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> worked CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Rapsodo CLASS="highlight"> tracking CLASS="highlight"> technology CLASS="highlight"> before, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> essentially CLASS="highlight"> only CLASS="highlight"> used CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> ensure CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> pitches CLASS="highlight"> were CLASS="highlight"> moving CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> way CLASS="highlight"> they CLASS="highlight"> had CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> previous CLASS="highlight"> seasons. CLASS="highlight"> But CLASS="highlight"> this CLASS="highlight"> spring, CLASS="highlight"> analytically CLASS="highlight"> minded CLASS="highlight"> pitching CLASS="highlight"> coach CLASS="highlight"> Oscar CLASS="highlight"> Marin CLASS="highlight"> helped CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> understand CLASS="highlight"> what CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Rapsodo CLASS="highlight"> data CLASS="highlight"> meant CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> how CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> could CLASS="highlight"> alter CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> arsenal CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> change CLASS="highlight"> those CLASS="highlight"> numbers CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> better.

    "Once CLASS="highlight"> we CLASS="highlight"> left CLASS="highlight"> Spring CLASS="highlight"> Training CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> go CLASS="highlight"> back CLASS="highlight"> home, CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> had CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> plan CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> my CLASS="highlight"> mind CLASS="highlight"> [of] CLASS="highlight"> where CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> want CLASS="highlight"> my CLASS="highlight"> numbers CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> be CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> what CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> need CLASS="highlight"> them CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> look CLASS="highlight"> like CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> be CLASS="highlight"> successful CLASS="highlight"> here,” CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> said.

    Keller CLASS="highlight"> focused CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> spin CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> fastball, CLASS="highlight"> improving CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> spin CLASS="highlight"> efficiency CLASS="highlight"> from CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> lower CLASS="highlight"> 90th CLASS="highlight"> percentile CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> around CLASS="highlight"> 95 CLASS="highlight"> percent. CLASS="highlight"> He’s CLASS="highlight"> tinkered CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> changeup CLASS="highlight"> grips CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> continues CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> do CLASS="highlight"> so, CLASS="highlight"> looking CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> another CLASS="highlight"> off-speed CLASS="highlight"> pitch CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> will CLASS="highlight"> complement CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> fastball, CLASS="highlight"> slider CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> curveball. CLASS="highlight"> (Adam CLASS="highlight"> Berry CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> July CLASS="highlight"> 6, CLASS="highlight"> 2020)

  • Like CLASS="highlight"> so CLASS="highlight"> many CLASS="highlight"> other CLASS="highlight"> Pirates CLASS="highlight"> pitching CLASS="highlight"> prospects, CLASS="highlight"> Mitch CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> instructed CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Minors CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> pound CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> bottom CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> strike CLASS="highlight"> zone CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> fastball CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> produce CLASS="highlight"> ground CLASS="highlight"> balls. CLASS="highlight"> The CLASS="highlight"> new CLASS="highlight"> staff CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> Pittsburgh CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> helped CLASS="highlight"> change CLASS="highlight"> that, CLASS="highlight"> pairing CLASS="highlight"> high CLASS="highlight"> fastballs CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> Keller’s CLASS="highlight"> hard-breaking CLASS="highlight"> slider CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> swing-and-miss CLASS="highlight"> curveball.  CLASS="highlight"> (Berry CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> mlb.com CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> 9/19/2020)

  • Sept CLASS="highlight"> 25, CLASS="highlight"> 2020: CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> ended CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> season CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> hitless CLASS="highlight"> streak CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> evoked CLASS="highlight"> statistical CLASS="highlight"> comparisons CLASS="highlight"> ranging CLASS="highlight"> from CLASS="highlight"> Johnny CLASS="highlight"> Vander CLASS="highlight"> Meer CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> Dock CLASS="highlight"> Ellis CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> Jason CLASS="highlight"> Schmidt.

    After CLASS="highlight"> throwing CLASS="highlight"> six CLASS="highlight"> hitless CLASS="highlight"> innings CLASS="highlight"> against CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Cardinals, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> didn’t CLASS="highlight"> allow CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> hit CLASS="highlight"> against CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Indians CLASS="highlight"> over CLASS="highlight"> five CLASS="highlight"> innings CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Pirates’ CLASS="highlight"> 4-3 CLASS="highlight"> loss CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> Progressive CLASS="highlight"> Field. CLASS="highlight"> According CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> STATS CLASS="highlight"> LLC, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> became CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> first CLASS="highlight"> National CLASS="highlight"> League CLASS="highlight"> pitcher CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> complete CLASS="highlight"> back-to-back CLASS="highlight"> no-hit CLASS="highlight"> outings CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> least CLASS="highlight"> five CLASS="highlight"> innings CLASS="highlight"> each CLASS="highlight"> since CLASS="highlight"> Vander CLASS="highlight"> Meer’s CLASS="highlight"> consecutive CLASS="highlight"> no-hitters CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> June CLASS="highlight"> 11-15, CLASS="highlight"> 1938.

    “Obviously CLASS="highlight"> we’d CLASS="highlight"> prefer CLASS="highlight"> more CLASS="highlight"> strikes, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> think CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> just CLASS="highlight"> shows CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> quality CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> stuff,” CLASS="highlight"> Pirates CLASS="highlight"> manager CLASS="highlight"> Derek CLASS="highlight"> Shelton CLASS="highlight"> said. CLASS="highlight"> “The CLASS="highlight"> fact CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> ends CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> season CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> 11 CLASS="highlight"> straight CLASS="highlight"> no-hit CLASS="highlight"> innings, CLASS="highlight"> that’s CLASS="highlight"> pretty CLASS="highlight"> damn CLASS="highlight"> good.” CLASS="highlight"> (A CLASS="highlight"> Berry CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> MLB.com CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> Sept CLASS="highlight"> 25, CLASS="highlight"> 2020)

  • 2020 CLASS="highlight"> Season: CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> entered CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> season CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> top CLASS="highlight"> prospect CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> organization, CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> kid CLASS="highlight"> coming CLASS="highlight"> into CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> own CLASS="highlight"> after CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> rocky CLASS="highlight"> rookie CLASS="highlight"> season. CLASS="highlight"> And CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> had CLASS="highlight"> high CLASS="highlight"> expectations, CLASS="highlight"> setting CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> become CLASS="highlight"> not CLASS="highlight"> only CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> member CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Pirates’ CLASS="highlight"> starting CLASS="highlight"> rotation CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> one CLASS="highlight"> who CLASS="highlight"> would CLASS="highlight"> provide CLASS="highlight"> quality CLASS="highlight"> starts CLASS="highlight"> every CLASS="highlight"> five CLASS="highlight"> days.

    Instead, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> finished CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> five CLASS="highlight"> starts. That CLASS="highlight"> several CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> them CLASS="highlight"> were CLASS="highlight"> quality CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> strong CLASS="highlight"> sign CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> Keller, CLASS="highlight"> who CLASS="highlight"> spent CLASS="highlight"> six CLASS="highlight"> weeks CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> injured CLASS="highlight"> list CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> strained CLASS="highlight"> left CLASS="highlight"> oblique. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> earned CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> victory CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 5-1 CLASS="highlight"> win CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> St. CLASS="highlight"> Louis CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> July CLASS="highlight"> 26, CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> first CLASS="highlight"> major-league CLASS="highlight"> managerial CLASS="highlight"> win CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> Pirates CLASS="highlight"> skipper CLASS="highlight"> Derek CLASS="highlight"> Shelton.

    Keller CLASS="highlight"> didn’t CLASS="highlight"> get CLASS="highlight"> another CLASS="highlight"> win, CLASS="highlight"> despite CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> strong CLASS="highlight"> finish. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> threw CLASS="highlight"> 11 CLASS="highlight"> consecutive CLASS="highlight"> no-hit CLASS="highlight"> innings CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> finish CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> season, CLASS="highlight"> following CLASS="highlight"> six CLASS="highlight"> scoreless CLASS="highlight"> innings CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 5-4 CLASS="highlight"> loss CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Cardinals CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> Sept. CLASS="highlight"> 19 CLASS="highlight"> by CLASS="highlight"> allowing CLASS="highlight"> one CLASS="highlight"> run CLASS="highlight"> (and CLASS="highlight"> eight CLASS="highlight"> walks) CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> five CLASS="highlight"> innings CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 4-3 CLASS="highlight"> loss CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> Cleveland CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> Sept. CLASS="highlight"> 25.

    “The CLASS="highlight"> eight CLASS="highlight"> walks CLASS="highlight"> really CLASS="highlight"> sucks. CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> don’t CLASS="highlight"> remember CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> last CLASS="highlight"> time CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> did CLASS="highlight"> that,” CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> said. CLASS="highlight"> “At CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> end CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> day, CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> kept CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> team CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> it. CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> got CLASS="highlight"> through CLASS="highlight"> five CLASS="highlight"> innings CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> one CLASS="highlight"> run. CLASS="highlight"> That’s CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> big CLASS="highlight"> thing CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> me, CLASS="highlight"> taking CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> positive CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> doing CLASS="highlight"> whatever CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> could CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> make CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> through CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> least CLASS="highlight"> five CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> us.”

    Throwing CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> least CLASS="highlight"> five CLASS="highlight"> no-hit CLASS="highlight"> innings CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> successive CLASS="highlight"> starts CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> feat CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> had CLASS="highlight"> been CLASS="highlight"> accomplished CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> National CLASS="highlight"> League CLASS="highlight"> only CLASS="highlight"> once CLASS="highlight"> since CLASS="highlight"> 1901, CLASS="highlight"> when CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Cincinnati CLASS="highlight"> Reds’ CLASS="highlight"> Johnny CLASS="highlight"> Vander CLASS="highlight"> Meer CLASS="highlight"> threw CLASS="highlight"> back-to-back CLASS="highlight"> no-hitters CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> 1938.

    “He CLASS="highlight"> threw CLASS="highlight"> five CLASS="highlight"> no-hit CLASS="highlight"> innings CLASS="highlight"> against CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> playoff CLASS="highlight"> team,” CLASS="highlight"> Shelton CLASS="highlight"> said. CLASS="highlight"> “We’d CLASS="highlight"> prefer CLASS="highlight"> more CLASS="highlight"> strikes, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> think CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> just CLASS="highlight"> shows CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> quality CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> stuff. CLASS="highlight"> That’s CLASS="highlight"> pretty CLASS="highlight"> impressive CLASS="highlight"> without CLASS="highlight"> your CLASS="highlight"> best CLASS="highlight"> stuff. CLASS="highlight"> The CLASS="highlight"> fact CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> leaves CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> season CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> 11 CLASS="highlight"> straight CLASS="highlight"> no-hit CLASS="highlight"> innings, CLASS="highlight"> that’s CLASS="highlight"> pretty CLASS="highlight"> good.”

    In CLASS="highlight"> between, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> had CLASS="highlight"> some CLASS="highlight"> rocky CLASS="highlight"> moments. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> allowed CLASS="highlight"> more CLASS="highlight"> walks CLASS="highlight"> (18) CLASS="highlight"> than CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> had CLASS="highlight"> strikeouts CLASS="highlight"> (16), CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> strikeouts CLASS="highlight"> per CLASS="highlight"> nine CLASS="highlight"> innings CLASS="highlight"> dropped CLASS="highlight"> from CLASS="highlight"> 12.2 CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> 2019 CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> 6.6 CLASS="highlight"> last CLASS="highlight"> season CLASS="highlight"> while CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> walks CLASS="highlight"> per CLASS="highlight"> nine CLASS="highlight"> increased CLASS="highlight"> from CLASS="highlight"> 3.0 CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> 7.5. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> also CLASS="highlight"> allowed CLASS="highlight"> four CLASS="highlight"> home CLASS="highlight"> runs. It CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> second CLASS="highlight"> start CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> season, CLASS="highlight"> against CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Cubs, CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> knew CLASS="highlight"> something CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> wrong. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> allowed CLASS="highlight"> five CLASS="highlight"> hits, CLASS="highlight"> including CLASS="highlight"> two CLASS="highlight"> home CLASS="highlight"> runs, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> walk CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> 2 CLASS="highlight"> 2/3 CLASS="highlight"> innings CLASS="highlight"> before CLASS="highlight"> leaving CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> discomfort CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> side. CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> didn’t CLASS="highlight"> make CLASS="highlight"> another CLASS="highlight"> start CLASS="highlight"> until CLASS="highlight"> Sept. CLASS="highlight"> 14.

    “One CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> things CLASS="highlight"> we’re CLASS="highlight"> really CLASS="highlight"> happy CLASS="highlight"> about, CLASS="highlight"> before CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> had CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> injury, CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> how CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> progressing,” CLASS="highlight"> Pirates CLASS="highlight"> pitching CLASS="highlight"> coach CLASS="highlight"> Oscar CLASS="highlight"> Marin CLASS="highlight"> said. CLASS="highlight"> “In CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> last CLASS="highlight"> start CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> St. CLASS="highlight"> Louis, CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> didn’t CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> best CLASS="highlight"> stuff, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> rolled CLASS="highlight"> five CLASS="highlight"> innings CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> limited CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> offense CLASS="highlight"> pretty CLASS="highlight"> well. CLASS="highlight"> The CLASS="highlight"> whole CLASS="highlight"> thing CLASS="highlight"> about CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> was, CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> him CLASS="highlight"> (saying), CLASS="highlight"> ‘All CLASS="highlight"> right, CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> don’t CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> my CLASS="highlight"> best CLASS="highlight"> stuff CLASS="highlight"> today. CLASS="highlight"> What’s CLASS="highlight"> going CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> be CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> challenge CLASS="highlight"> today?’ CLASS="highlight"> We CLASS="highlight"> challenged CLASS="highlight"> him CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> change CLASS="highlight"> speeds, CLASS="highlight"> change CLASS="highlight"> eye CLASS="highlight"> levels. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> able CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> do CLASS="highlight"> those CLASS="highlight"> things.”

    The CLASS="highlight"> Pirates CLASS="highlight"> identified CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> problem CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> worked CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> him CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> maintain CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> posture CLASS="highlight"> down CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> slope. CLASS="highlight"> And CLASS="highlight"> they CLASS="highlight"> believed CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> working CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> Jameson CLASS="highlight"> Taillon, CLASS="highlight"> who CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> rehabilitating CLASS="highlight"> from CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> second CLASS="highlight"> Tommy CLASS="highlight"> John CLASS="highlight"> surgery, CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> best CLASS="highlight"> thing CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> Keller’s CLASS="highlight"> development. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> got CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> pick CLASS="highlight"> Taillon’s CLASS="highlight"> brain CLASS="highlight"> about CLASS="highlight"> preparation CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> pitch CLASS="highlight"> sequencing.

    “They CLASS="highlight"> talk CLASS="highlight"> every CLASS="highlight"> day, CLASS="highlight"> they CLASS="highlight"> watch CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> games CLASS="highlight"> together. CLASS="highlight"> When CLASS="highlight"> certain CLASS="highlight"> situations CLASS="highlight"> come CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> during CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> games, CLASS="highlight"> they’re CLASS="highlight"> talking CLASS="highlight"> about CLASS="highlight"> it,” CLASS="highlight"> Marin CLASS="highlight"> said. CLASS="highlight"> “What CLASS="highlight"> better CLASS="highlight"> influence CLASS="highlight"> than CLASS="highlight"> having CLASS="highlight"> Jamo CLASS="highlight"> right CLASS="highlight"> there CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> him? CLASS="highlight"> Those CLASS="highlight"> are CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> kind CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> things CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> helped CLASS="highlight"> him CLASS="highlight"> out. CLASS="highlight"> Every CLASS="highlight"> time CLASS="highlight"> he’s CLASS="highlight"> thrown CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> bullpen CLASS="highlight"> or CLASS="highlight"> live CLASS="highlight"> BP, CLASS="highlight"> we’re CLASS="highlight"> talking CLASS="highlight"> him CLASS="highlight"> through CLASS="highlight"> those CLASS="highlight"> situations: CLASS="highlight"> ‘Hey, CLASS="highlight"> what CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> thought CLASS="highlight"> process CLASS="highlight"> behind CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> pitch? CLASS="highlight"> What’s CLASS="highlight"> your CLASS="highlight"> thought CLASS="highlight"> process CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> location CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> this CLASS="highlight"> one?’ CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> then CLASS="highlight"> having CLASS="highlight"> him CLASS="highlight"> understand CLASS="highlight"> different CLASS="highlight"> things CLASS="highlight"> so CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> can CLASS="highlight"> keep CLASS="highlight"> growing, CLASS="highlight"> even CLASS="highlight"> without CLASS="highlight"> reps CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> game.”

    The CLASS="highlight"> future: CLASS="highlight"> A CLASS="highlight"> positive CLASS="highlight"> sign CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> effectiveness CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> fastball, CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> touched CLASS="highlight"> 97 CLASS="highlight"> mph CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> able CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> locate CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> strikes CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> six CLASS="highlight"> no-hit CLASS="highlight"> innings CLASS="highlight"> against CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Cardinals CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> Sept. CLASS="highlight"> 19.

    “He CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> obviously CLASS="highlight"> really CLASS="highlight"> good. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> just CLASS="highlight"> had CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> really CLASS="highlight"> good CLASS="highlight"> fastball, CLASS="highlight"> maybe CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> best CLASS="highlight"> I’ve CLASS="highlight"> seen CLASS="highlight"> since CLASS="highlight"> I’ve CLASS="highlight"> caught CLASS="highlight"> him CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> terms CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> where CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> locating CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> overall CLASS="highlight"> life CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> it, CLASS="highlight"> playing CLASS="highlight"> up,” CLASS="highlight"> Pirates CLASS="highlight"> catcher CLASS="highlight"> Jacob CLASS="highlight"> Stallings CLASS="highlight"> said, CLASS="highlight"> noting CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> threw CLASS="highlight"> mostly CLASS="highlight"> fastball-sliders CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> righties CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> fastball-curveballs CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> lefties. CLASS="highlight"> “The CLASS="highlight"> fastball CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> just CLASS="highlight"> really CLASS="highlight"> working CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> obviously CLASS="highlight"> able CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> use CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> off-speed CLASS="highlight"> stuff CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> get CLASS="highlight"> them CLASS="highlight"> off CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> heater CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> put CLASS="highlight"> ‘em CLASS="highlight"> away.”

    The CLASS="highlight"> Pirates CLASS="highlight"> believe CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> Keller, CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> organization’s CLASS="highlight"> top CLASS="highlight"> prospect, CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> stuff CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> become CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> top-of-the-rotation CLASS="highlight"> starter, CLASS="highlight"> even CLASS="highlight"> if CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> only CLASS="highlight"> 16 CLASS="highlight"> career CLASS="highlight"> Major CLASS="highlight"> League CLASS="highlight"> starts. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> show CLASS="highlight"> more CLASS="highlight"> consistency CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> durability CLASS="highlight"> than CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> first CLASS="highlight"> two CLASS="highlight"> seasons, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> there CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> hope CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> last CLASS="highlight"> two CLASS="highlight"> starts CLASS="highlight"> were CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> turning CLASS="highlight"> point. CLASS="highlight"> The CLASS="highlight"> Pirates CLASS="highlight"> would CLASS="highlight"> love CLASS="highlight"> nothing CLASS="highlight"> more CLASS="highlight"> than CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> Taillon CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> top CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> their CLASS="highlight"> starting CLASS="highlight"> rotation, CLASS="highlight"> though CLASS="highlight"> both CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> lot CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> prove.

    “If CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> can CLASS="highlight"> be CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> No. CLASS="highlight"> 2 CLASS="highlight"> behind CLASS="highlight"> Mitch CLASS="highlight"> Keller, CLASS="highlight"> that’s CLASS="highlight"> really CLASS="highlight"> good CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> our CLASS="highlight"> organization CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> our CLASS="highlight"> team,” CLASS="highlight"> Taillon CLASS="highlight"> said. CLASS="highlight"> “I CLASS="highlight"> would CLASS="highlight"> happily CLASS="highlight"> pencil CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> behind CLASS="highlight"> him.” That CLASS="highlight"> almost CLASS="highlight"> made CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> blush.

    “I’d CLASS="highlight"> be CLASS="highlight"> happy,” CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> said, CLASS="highlight"> “if CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> No. CLASS="highlight"> 2 CLASS="highlight"> behind CLASS="highlight"> him.”

    The CLASS="highlight"> Pirates CLASS="highlight"> would CLASS="highlight"> be CLASS="highlight"> happy CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> No. CLASS="highlight"> 1 CLASS="highlight"> starter. CLASS="highlight"> The CLASS="highlight"> sooner CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> can CLASS="highlight"> elevate CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> role, CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> better.  CLASS="highlight"> (Kevin CLASS="highlight"> Gorman CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> Nov CLASS="highlight"> 16, CLASS="highlight"> 2020)

  • June CLASS="highlight"> 11, CLASS="highlight"> 2021: CLASS="highlight"> Keller’s CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> down CLASS="highlight"> season CLASS="highlight"> moved CLASS="highlight"> into CLASS="highlight"> its CLASS="highlight"> third CLASS="highlight"> month CLASS="highlight"> without CLASS="highlight"> any CLASS="highlight"> signs CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> straightening CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> trending CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> yet.

    His CLASS="highlight"> four-seam CLASS="highlight"> fastball CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> velocity, CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> he’s CLASS="highlight"> able CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> sit CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> mid-90s CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> touch CLASS="highlight"> 98 CLASS="highlight"> mph. CLASS="highlight"> That CLASS="highlight"> kind CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> heater CLASS="highlight"> tends CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> play CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> big CLASS="highlight"> leagues, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> it’s CLASS="highlight"> not CLASS="highlight"> been CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> par CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> Keller’s CLASS="highlight"> case CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> terms CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> production CLASS="highlight"> against CLASS="highlight"> it, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> that’s CLASS="highlight"> been CLASS="highlight"> largely CLASS="highlight"> true CLASS="highlight"> even CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> sharp CLASS="highlight"> drop CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> weighted CLASS="highlight"> on-base CLASS="highlight"> average CLASS="highlight"> from CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> rookie CLASS="highlight"> season CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> this CLASS="highlight"> season. CLASS="highlight"> Of CLASS="highlight"> 144 CLASS="highlight"> pitchers CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> throw CLASS="highlight"> 750 CLASS="highlight"> four-seamers CLASS="highlight"> between CLASS="highlight"> 2019-2021, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> eighth-highest CLASS="highlight"> weighted CLASS="highlight"> on-base CLASS="highlight"> average CLASS="highlight"> (wOBA) CLASS="highlight"> off CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> four-seamer CLASS="highlight"> (.410). CLASS="highlight"> It CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> .499 CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> 2019, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> dropped CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> .366 CLASS="highlight"> this CLASS="highlight"> season. CLASS="highlight"> That’s CLASS="highlight"> mainly CLASS="highlight"> due CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> drop CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> batting CLASS="highlight"> average CLASS="highlight"> against, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> slugging CLASS="highlight"> mark CLASS="highlight"> against CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> .471 CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> stayed CLASS="highlight"> fairly CLASS="highlight"> high, CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> 13 CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> 25 CLASS="highlight"> hits CLASS="highlight"> off CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> four-seamer CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> gone CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> extra CLASS="highlight"> bases.

    Since CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> relies CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> four-seam CLASS="highlight"> fastball CLASS="highlight"> so CLASS="highlight"> much, CLASS="highlight"> using CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> 57.2% CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> time CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> average CLASS="highlight"> this CLASS="highlight"> season, CLASS="highlight"> it’s CLASS="highlight"> important CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> locate CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> well. CLASS="highlight"> However, CLASS="highlight"> among CLASS="highlight"> pitchers CLASS="highlight"> who CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> thrown CLASS="highlight"> 750 CLASS="highlight"> fastballs CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> 2021, CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> fourth-worst CLASS="highlight"> rate CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> four-seamers CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> balls CLASS="highlight"> (not CLASS="highlight"> including CLASS="highlight"> intentional CLASS="highlight"> balls) CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> 21.1%.

    The CLASS="highlight"> whiff CLASS="highlight"> rate CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> Keller’s CLASS="highlight"> slider CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> been CLASS="highlight"> lower CLASS="highlight"> than CLASS="highlight"> past CLASS="highlight"> seasons, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> not CLASS="highlight"> alarmingly CLASS="highlight"> low. CLASS="highlight"> However, CLASS="highlight"> he’s CLASS="highlight"> left CLASS="highlight"> 24.4% CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> sliders CLASS="highlight"> over CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> heart CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> plate, CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> defined CLASS="highlight"> by CLASS="highlight"> Baseball CLASS="highlight"> Savant, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> they’ve CLASS="highlight"> gotten CLASS="highlight"> hit CLASS="highlight"> (.425 CLASS="highlight"> wOBA CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> .420 CLASS="highlight"> expected CLASS="highlight"> wOBA).

    He’s CLASS="highlight"> middle CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> pack CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> whiff CLASS="highlight"> rate CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> 31.4%, CLASS="highlight"> which CLASS="highlight"> ranks CLASS="highlight"> 52nd CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> 80 CLASS="highlight"> pitchers CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> 100 CLASS="highlight"> swings CLASS="highlight"> induced CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> slider CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> 2021. Batters CLASS="highlight"> are CLASS="highlight"> squaring CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> curveball CLASS="highlight"> like CLASS="highlight"> never CLASS="highlight"> before. CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> lowest CLASS="highlight"> whiff CLASS="highlight"> rate CLASS="highlight"> this CLASS="highlight"> season CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> any CLASS="highlight"> MLB CLASS="highlight"> pitcher CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> 50 CLASS="highlight"> swings CLASS="highlight"> induced CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> curveball CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> 15.4%, CLASS="highlight"> which CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> 7% CLASS="highlight"> back CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> next CLASS="highlight"> closest CLASS="highlight"> pitcher CLASS="highlight"> (Jameson CLASS="highlight"> Taillon).

    In CLASS="highlight"> short, CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> fastball CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> fast, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> fairly CLASS="highlight"> straight CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> not CLASS="highlight"> being CLASS="highlight"> commanded CLASS="highlight"> well, CLASS="highlight"> per CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> own CLASS="highlight"> admission CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> data. CLASS="highlight"> His CLASS="highlight"> slider CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> finding CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> heart CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> plate CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> quarter CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> time, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> second CLASS="highlight"> off-speed CLASS="highlight"> pitch CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> being CLASS="highlight"> hit CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> higher CLASS="highlight"> rate CLASS="highlight"> than CLASS="highlight"> ever CLASS="highlight"> before CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> MLB CLASS="highlight"> career.

    Keller, CLASS="highlight"> Shelton CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> Cherington CLASS="highlight"> all CLASS="highlight"> trust CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> work CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> right-hander CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> former CLASS="highlight"> No. CLASS="highlight"> 1 CLASS="highlight"> prospect CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> organization CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> doing CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> background CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> pointed CLASS="highlight"> toward CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> good CLASS="highlight"> outcome. CLASS="highlight"> It’s CLASS="highlight"> just CLASS="highlight"> been CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> bumpy CLASS="highlight"> road CLASS="highlight"> so CLASS="highlight"> far CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> Keller, CLASS="highlight"> who CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> still CLASS="highlight"> yet CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> pitch CLASS="highlight"> 30 CLASS="highlight"> Major CLASS="highlight"> League CLASS="highlight"> games.

    "I CLASS="highlight"> think CLASS="highlight"> we CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> good CLASS="highlight"> plan,” CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> said. CLASS="highlight"> “It's CLASS="highlight"> just CLASS="highlight"> me CLASS="highlight"> going CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> executing.” CLASS="highlight"> (J CLASS="highlight"> Crouse CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> MLB.com CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> June CLASS="highlight"> 11, CLASS="highlight"> 2021)

  • 2021 CLASS="highlight"> Season: CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> went CLASS="highlight"> 3-7 CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 7.04 CLASS="highlight"> ERA CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> 12 CLASS="highlight"> outings CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> start CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> season, CLASS="highlight"> yielding CLASS="highlight"> 56 CLASS="highlight"> hits CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> 29 CLASS="highlight"> walks CLASS="highlight"> while CLASS="highlight"> striking CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> 51 CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> 47 CLASS="highlight"> innings. CLASS="highlight"> Manager CLASS="highlight"> Derek CLASS="highlight"> Shelton CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> GM CLASS="highlight"> Ben CLASS="highlight"> Cherington CLASS="highlight"> had CLASS="highlight"> seen CLASS="highlight"> enough CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> sent CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> back CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> Indianapolis CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> mid-June CLASS="highlight"> after CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> short CLASS="highlight"> stint CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> injured CLASS="highlight"> list. CLASS="highlight"> In CLASS="highlight"> eight CLASS="highlight"> appearances, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> went CLASS="highlight"> 1-1 CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 3.21 CLASS="highlight"> ERA, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Pirates CLASS="highlight"> recalled CLASS="highlight"> him CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> Pittsburgh CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> end CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> July.

    He CLASS="highlight"> pitched CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> 11 CLASS="highlight"> games CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> rest CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> way, CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> things CLASS="highlight"> did CLASS="highlight"> not CLASS="highlight"> get CLASS="highlight"> much CLASS="highlight"> better; CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> ERA CLASS="highlight"> during CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> 53 CLASS="highlight"> 1/3-inning CLASS="highlight"> stretch CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> 5.40 CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> gave CLASS="highlight"> up CLASS="highlight"> 75 CLASS="highlight"> hits CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> 20 CLASS="highlight"> walks CLASS="highlight"> while CLASS="highlight"> striking CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> 41. CLASS="highlight"> Opposing CLASS="highlight"> hitters CLASS="highlight"> raked CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> .350 CLASS="highlight"> clip.  CLASS="highlight"> (Robert CLASS="highlight"> Kelley CLASS="highlight">  Jan CLASS="highlight"> 13, CLASS="highlight"> 2022)

  • March CLASS="highlight"> 20, CLASS="highlight"> 2022: CLASS="highlight"> Keller’s CLASS="highlight"> viral CLASS="highlight"> bullpen CLASS="highlight"> session CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> conducted CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> Tread CLASS="highlight"> Athletics, CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> private CLASS="highlight"> training CLASS="highlight"> facility CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> introduced CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> him CLASS="highlight"> by CLASS="highlight"> former CLASS="highlight"> Pirate CLASS="highlight"> Clay CLASS="highlight"> Holmes. CLASS="highlight"> There, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> had CLASS="highlight"> one CLASS="highlight"> main CLASS="highlight"> goal: CLASS="highlight"> re-lengthen CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> arm CLASS="highlight"> action.

    Keller CLASS="highlight"> had CLASS="highlight"> shortened CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> arm CLASS="highlight"> action CLASS="highlight"> beginning CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> 2020. CLASS="highlight"> Devin CLASS="highlight"> Hayes, CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> performance CLASS="highlight"> coordinator CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> Tread CLASS="highlight"> Athletics CLASS="highlight"> who CLASS="highlight"> worked CLASS="highlight"> extensively CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> Keller, CLASS="highlight"> explained CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> shorter CLASS="highlight"> arm CLASS="highlight"> action CLASS="highlight"> essentially CLASS="highlight"> took CLASS="highlight"> away CLASS="highlight"> velocity CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> Keller’s CLASS="highlight"> ability CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> “supinate,” CLASS="highlight"> or CLASS="highlight"> turn CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> wrist. CLASS="highlight"> The CLASS="highlight"> numbers CLASS="highlight"> are CLASS="highlight"> jarring.

    Before CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> shortened CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> arm CLASS="highlight"> action, CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> average CLASS="highlight"> fastball CLASS="highlight"> velocity CLASS="highlight"> was CLASS="highlight"> 95.4 CLASS="highlight"> mph. CLASS="highlight"> The CLASS="highlight"> last CLASS="highlight"> two CLASS="highlight"> seasons, CLASS="highlight"> Keller’s CLASS="highlight"> fastball CLASS="highlight"> velocity CLASS="highlight"> dropped CLASS="highlight"> below CLASS="highlight"> 94 CLASS="highlight"> mph. CLASS="highlight"> By CLASS="highlight"> re-extending CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> arm CLASS="highlight"> action, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> would CLASS="highlight"> more CLASS="highlight"> effectively CLASS="highlight"> supinate CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> utilize CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> body’s CLASS="highlight"> upper CLASS="highlight"> half. CLASS="highlight"> Those CLASS="highlight"> tweaks, CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> turn, CLASS="highlight"> would CLASS="highlight"> lead CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> better CLASS="highlight"> stuff CLASS="highlight"> . CLASS="highlight"> . CLASS="highlight"> . CLASS="highlight"> CLASS="highlight"> CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> better CLASS="highlight"> results.

    To CLASS="highlight"> achieve CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> length, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> frequently CLASS="highlight"> performed CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> figure CLASS="highlight"> eight CLASS="highlight"> drill CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> help CLASS="highlight"> create CLASS="highlight"> fluidity CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> improve CLASS="highlight"> arm CLASS="highlight"> path. CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> also CLASS="highlight"> did CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> “Kikuchi CLASS="highlight"> Drill,” CLASS="highlight"> named CLASS="highlight"> after CLASS="highlight"> Yusei CLASS="highlight"> Kikuchi, CLASS="highlight"> which CLASS="highlight"> helps CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> body’s CLASS="highlight"> lower CLASS="highlight"> half. CLASS="highlight"> To CLASS="highlight"> complement CLASS="highlight"> all CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> throwing, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> went CLASS="highlight"> through CLASS="highlight"> general CLASS="highlight"> strength CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> conditioning CLASS="highlight"> during CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> week CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> Tread. CLASS="highlight"> Social CLASS="highlight"> media CLASS="highlight"> soon CLASS="highlight"> discovered CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> fruit CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> Keller’s CLASS="highlight"> labor. CLASS="highlight"> (JD CLASS="highlight"> Santos CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> MLB.com CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> March CLASS="highlight"> 20, CLASS="highlight"> 2022)

  • 2022 CLASS="highlight"> Improvements: CLASS="highlight"> Beginning CLASS="highlight"> last CLASS="highlight"> month CLASS="highlight"> (May), CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> introduced CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> incorporated CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> sinker CLASS="highlight"> into CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> arsenal, CLASS="highlight"> which CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> slowly CLASS="highlight"> becoming CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> primary CLASS="highlight"> pitch.  CLASS="highlight"> (Justice CLASS="highlight"> delos CLASS="highlight"> Santos) CLASS="highlight"> /> CLASS="highlight"> /> CLASS="highlight"> />
  • June CLASS="highlight"> 8, CLASS="highlight"> 2022: CLASS="highlight"> -- CLASS="highlight"> The CLASS="highlight"> theme CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> this CLASS="highlight"> year CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> 2022 CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> Mitch CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> been CLASS="highlight"> change. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> modified CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> arm CLASS="highlight"> action CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> offseason CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> rediscover CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> velocity. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> added CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> “sweeper” CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> repertoire. CLASS="highlight"> He CLASS="highlight"> made CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> first CLASS="highlight"> Major CLASS="highlight"> League CLASS="highlight"> relief CLASS="highlight"> appearance. CLASS="highlight"> And CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> recent CLASS="highlight"> weeks, CLASS="highlight"> Keller’s CLASS="highlight"> pitch CLASS="highlight"> profile CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> been CLASS="highlight"> headlined CLASS="highlight"> by CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> new CLASS="highlight"> toy. CLASS="highlight"> /> CLASS="highlight"> />Beginning CLASS="highlight"> last CLASS="highlight"> month CLASS="highlight"> -n CLASS="highlight"> May, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> introduced CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> incorporated CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> sinker CLASS="highlight"> into CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> arsenal, CLASS="highlight"> which CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> slowly CLASS="highlight"> becoming CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> primary CLASS="highlight"> pitch. CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> threw CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> career-high CLASS="highlight"> 42 CLASS="highlight"> sinkers CLASS="highlight"> as CLASS="highlight"> he CLASS="highlight"> pitched CLASS="highlight"> six CLASS="highlight"> innings CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> one-run CLASS="highlight"> ball CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> seven CLASS="highlight"> strikeouts CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Pirates’ CLASS="highlight"> 3-1 CLASS="highlight"> loss CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Tigers CLASS="highlight"> at CLASS="highlight"> PNC CLASS="highlight"> Park. CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> is CLASS="highlight"> still CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> experimental CLASS="highlight"> phase, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> early CLASS="highlight"> returns CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> sinker CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> bag CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> been CLASS="highlight"> promising. CLASS="highlight"> />  CLASS="highlight"> />“I CLASS="highlight"> think CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> still CLASS="highlight"> don't CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> all CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> feel CLASS="highlight"> in CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> world CLASS="highlight"> for CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> pitch CLASS="highlight"> yet, CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> it's CLASS="highlight"> just CLASS="highlight"> such CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> good CLASS="highlight"> pitch CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> so CLASS="highlight"> much CLASS="highlight"> movement CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> it CLASS="highlight"> just CLASS="highlight"> gives CLASS="highlight"> me CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> confidence CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> attack CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> zone CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> it, CLASS="highlight"> even CLASS="highlight"> if CLASS="highlight"> I CLASS="highlight"> am CLASS="highlight"> CLASS="highlight"> missing CLASS="highlight"> arm CLASS="highlight"> side CLASS="highlight"> or CLASS="highlight"> missing CLASS="highlight"> down CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> it,” CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> said. CLASS="highlight"> /> CLASS="highlight"> />With CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> caveat CLASS="highlight"> that CLASS="highlight"> correlation CLASS="highlight"> does CLASS="highlight"> not CLASS="highlight"> imply CLASS="highlight"> causation, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> thrown CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> ball CLASS="highlight"> well CLASS="highlight"> since CLASS="highlight"> introducing CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> sinker CLASS="highlight"> on CLASS="highlight"> May CLASS="highlight"> 18. CLASS="highlight"> In CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> past CLASS="highlight"> four CLASS="highlight"> outings, CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> struck CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> 18 CLASS="highlight"> batters CLASS="highlight"> across CLASS="highlight"> 17 CLASS="highlight"> innings CLASS="highlight"> with CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> 2.65 CLASS="highlight"> ERA. CLASS="highlight"> Other CLASS="highlight"> factors CLASS="highlight"> have CLASS="highlight"> contributed CLASS="highlight"> to CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> success CLASS="highlight"> aside CLASS="highlight"> from CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> sinker CLASS="highlight"> -- CLASS="highlight"> Keller CLASS="highlight"> called CLASS="highlight"> his CLASS="highlight"> two CLASS="highlight"> appearances CLASS="highlight"> out CLASS="highlight"> of CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> bullpen CLASS="highlight"> against CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> Cubs CLASS="highlight"> and CLASS="highlight"> Rockies CLASS="highlight"> a CLASS="highlight"> “reset” CLASS="highlight"> -- CLASS="highlight"> but CLASS="highlight"> the CLASS="highlight"> sinker CLASS="highlight"> has CLASS="highlight"> quickly CLASS="highlight"> proven CLASS="highlight"> its CLASS="highlight"> effectiveness. CLASS="highlight"> (JD CLASS="highlight"> Santos CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> MLB.com CLASS="highlight"> - CLASS="highlight"> June CLASS="highlight"> 8, CLASS="highlight"> 2022)
Career Injury Report
  • April 1-Aug 2, 2015: Keller had a bout of forearm soreness, an injury that usually is a precursor to Tommy John surgery. But he endeavored to alleviate the problem via conditioning workouts. (He also missed 5 weeks in May and June with a back sprain.)

  • Aug 2017: Mitch overcame a back strain to earn a promotion to Double-A Altoona.

  • Aug 2-Sept 14, 2020: Mitch was on the IL with left side discomfort.

  • June 6-8, 2021: Keller was on the IL for Covid.