BRADENTON, Fla. – Mitch Keller will make his return to Bradenton tonight, pitching with the Marauders for the first time since leaving his start on May 16th after one inning of work. Keller went down with a back issue, which he described as the entire bottom part of his back getting “locked up.”
The issue actually happened in his start on May 10th, which was the same start he was stung by a bee, further compounding his rough stretch during his last time in Bradenton.
“It just kind of felt really tight,” Keller said of the back during the May 10th start. “I just tried to pitch through it. I was going to say something the next week, but it just kind of went away, and came back again the next game. I decided it wasn’t worth it to push through it, so I said something.”
Keller could only feel the issue when he was throwing, and because he had some time off between his starts, he didn’t notice the issue until the May 16th outing. The good news is that he has been throwing for some time now, and isn’t experiencing the same issues.
“I feel 100%,” Keller said. “There’s no problem in there or anywhere else. I’m just trying to get back to get my innings built up.”
Keller went two innings during his first rehab start in Morgantown. His second outing was shortened to two innings, but he was able to throw some pitches in the bullpen, and the team considered it a three inning start. He will go four innings on Thursday with the Marauders.
The back issue, and the time missed, raises the question of whether Keller can make it to Altoona this season. At the start of the year, I expected him to be promoted by now. I still think he could make it, as he looked close to being a guy who could be promoted prior to the injury, and there are still two months left in the season. He hasn’t heard anything yet, but still has that as his goal.
“All signs still lead to that, I think,” Keller said on a possible promotion. “I haven’t really heard much. They haven’t really told me anything. Just kind of go out and do my thing and whatever happens, happens. I still have an open mind about ending the year there. It’s my goal.”
Keller was showing why he’s the top pitching prospect in the system prior to his injury. If he gets back on track in Bradenton right away, then it might not take long for him to reach that season goal of getting promoted to Altoona.