Pirates Discussion: This is a Completely Different Mitch Keller

This is what you want to see from Mitch Keller.

The Pirates lost 1-0 to the Orioles last night, with Keller giving up the lone run and getting no support from his offense. The right-handed starter pitched six innings, allowing eight hits and one walk, with one strikeout.

Keller has been outstanding since adding a new sinker to his repertoire. He started heavily incorporating the sinker heavily on May 25th. In 12 starts with the new pitch, he has a 3.14 ERA in 71.2 innings.

For some perspective on how much of a shift this is for Keller, consider his inconsistent past. Prior to the 2022 season, Keller didn’t have more than two starts in a row with a game score above 50. He didn’t even have back-to-back instances in all of 2021.

In June, Keller put together four starts in a row with a game score over 50. His current streak, after last night’s start, is five games. Keller has reversed his trend, now rarely seeing bad outings.

This is what you want to see from this Pittsburgh Pirates season.

The Pirates are one of the worst teams in the league. The offense disappears on a lot of nights. The pitching has provided some hope for the future, but also a reminder of how much the Pirates need to add to their MLB staff.

Having Keller stepping up like this is huge.

It’s still only a dozen starts, but this is a different Mitch Keller than we’ve ever seen in the majors. He’s consistent and he’s good, and that’s not a combination the Pirates have seen often from their pitchers the last few years.

The Pirates need more than Keller. In my breakdown of the roster yesterday, I had Keller and Roansy Contreras leading the 2023 staff, with Quinn Priester and Mike Burrows on the way. If Keller can maintain this production, he will make things easier on those other younger pitchers by removing the need for them to lead the staff right away.

Another pitcher who could help out in the future is JT Brubaker. He goes today against the Orioles, and has seen his own success in June and July.

PIRATES @ ORIOLES

Time: 5:05 PM EST

Pirates Starter: JT Brubaker (2-9, 4.40)

Orioles Starter: Austin Voth (1-1, 5.54)

Brubaker Notes: Brubaker didn’t have a great start his last time out, giving up seven earned runs on 12 hits in 4.1 innings to the Phillies. That snapped a streak of eight starts in a row where he pitched five or more innings. Brubaker was impressive during this stretch, with a 3.17 ERA in 48.1 innings.

LINEUPS:

Pirates

Orioles

1. Cedric Mullins (L) CF
2. Adley Rutschman (S) C
3. Anthony Santander (S) RF
4. Ryan Mountcastle (R) 1B
5. Terrin Vavra (L) DH
6. Ramon Urias (R) 3B
7. Rougned Odor (L) 2B
8. Jorge Mateo (R) SS
9. Brett Phillips (L) LF

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redwards60

Keller has been very good since early to mid June. With Quintana traded and Contreras banished to AAA by our genius GM, Keller is now the Pirates best starter. Brubaker was terrible in his last start and labored for 4 painful innings yesterday. Now we get to see Bryce Wilson today….I wonder how that will go? Hey BC.. how much longer are you going to hang on to VanMeter? This roster is really embarrassing to MLB.

1979andCounting

Camden Yards was a ghost town in recent years. Someone needs to make sure BN views this game, cause I’m sure he rarely watches his team’s road games. Put a winning talented team on the field and they will return to PNC.

redwards60

Unlike the Pirates, the Orioles made a great hire for GM and manager. They are way ahead of schedule and are over achieving this year because they are well coached. Wait until their prospects arrive starting next year. They are going to soon surpass Toronto and Tampa Bay. They were able to start Voth yesterday and still beat the hapless Pirates.

hoffmark83

Greg Allen is another waste of a roster space.

redwards60

One of many…this is a mediocre AAA team. I have never seen a sports organization care less for its fans and devalue their own prospects like this one. It is really pathetic. Swaggerty should be playing every day in Pittsburgh now to see if he is even a prospect anymore. He is 26 now?

bucsws2014

Amazingly, since Scully’s passing and all the tributes to his reserved broadcasting style, it seems Block is actually talking more.

b mcferren

he can’t hit the breaking ball 🙁

1979andCounting

The worse part is he can’t recognize it coming at him and hold off his swing at the not-even-close to strikes.

Last edited 2 days ago by 1979andCounting
bucsws2014

Was in kitchen making dinner in top 7th. Returned to find Delay out. Seems I missed some fine strategery.

bucsws2014

Every Oriole has exactly one hit, including McKenna who PH. Don’t see that often.

Wilbur Miller

The Pirates do that all the time. Just takes two weeks.

hoffmark83

Just two weeks? Sometimes it seems like at least a month.

jon6er

And Shelton once again is either too lazy or too stoopid to get another pitcher after Hyde pinch hit for Phillips.

1979andCounting

Thought the same thing. Stout is a career Independent ball pitcher. You match him up vs LHers for his 3 batter minimum. No way to leave him in high leverage there.

jon6er

It’s about to become a moot point after the 7th, lol. But it’s been fun and embarrassing watching De Jong and the waiver claim catcher try to figure out WTF they are doing, lol.

1979andCounting

That was a comedy routine! Has Godoy ever used pitchcom? Dejong is tough to catch, lots of movement, but let’s put the new guy in late in a close game. Smh.

skliesen

#ExtendCruz

bucsws2014

Who do you have in mind for a comp? I’m at a loss trying to think of another player with Cruz’s particular combo of strengths and weaknesses.

Last edited 2 days ago by bucsws2014
docdon385

Totally agree but it’s probably more likely that BC will find some excuse to send him down or put him on the IL especially if he starts being seriously talked about as a potential ROY candidate. The top two vote getters will receive a full year of service time and the Pirates simply cannot have that. That wouldn’t matter if they extend him though.

AdministrativeSky236

Unless he hits like .450 with 15 homers to finish the season, i dont think theres any chance he enters the ROY convo

b mcferren

isnt it that second and third place in ROY have an influence?

skliesen

Another batch of bad Bru tonight.

bucsws2014

Mullins could be a superstar in cricket.

forkball

Thoughts on playing infield in just down one early in the game? It seems to lead to bigger innings.

jon6er

Shelton brings the infield in trying to save a run in the second inning but then leaves a struggling relief pitcher in to face a pinch hitter after the Pirates are within a run. Dude is so far in over his head as a manager.

jon6er

Sheltoned

Wilbur Miller

Don’t know where we’d be without that 1B depth.

docdon385

Just about right where we are. They don’t want to give Martin a chance because he strikes out too much, but didn’t I just see VanMeter look awful? Okay, what about Shackelford? Somebody. Anybody.

joebaseball

Does he strike out more frequently than Cruz?

Wilbur Miller

No, he’s good at making outs when he hits the ball, too. More versatile than Cruz.

jon6er

It would be nice if Shelton and VanMeter left in a package deal!

PirateRican21

Marcano needs to see more than a pitch per at bats….

1979andCounting

TNBucs will be interested to see same identical lineup today…….by the O’s! Maybe Shelton will notice.

JimEastTennessee

Van Meter has some dirt on someone-that is all I can come up with.

docdon385

I’ve got nothin’ either. Four days past the trade deadline and VanMeter is still striking out with runners in scoring position. Screwy.

bucsws2014

I’m sure that in replacing Bligh with JVM, the offense will show up tonight.😱

Last edited 2 days ago by bucsws2014
JimEastTennessee

um, about that?

slider1971

Another ex super prospect goes on waivers today. Doubt the Pirates have interest in Franmil Reyes as a strict DH player with a 4.5 million dollar salary. But if you are looking for power, there aren’t many better at hitting long balls than the 26 year old with two years of control
Left.
Problem is he is striking out almost 40% of the time despite posting solid numbers the past couple years. I probably pass here as well?

docdon385

Personally I don’t give a rat’s ass how many times a guy strikes out as long as when he hits the ball he hits it hard. Someone who hits soft ground balls or weak pop ups may not strike out much but he’s basically useless. Driving in runs is probably the most valuable number in my view because isn’t that really what counts?

PirateRican21

I was looking at his splits, hoping that he smashes lefties, unfortunately there’s no advantage.

bucsws2014

Has anyone ever tried to play him at 1b?

joebaseball

Sounds just like Cruz

bucsws2014

More like Suwinski to me.

hoptown

They should absolutely claim him. 30 HR hitters don’t grow on trees. He has 2 years of control after this year. And he will only cost like $1M to look at for the rest of this year. Downside is replacement level. Upside is unlimited.

jon6er

Yeah, Haines and Shelton will fix him….no probably not a good idea

Wilbur Miller

He hit 30 dingerz last year. That’s 30 pitches he could have taken to wear down the pitcher!

jon6er

fer sure

joesolo6181

Happy to see Keller finally find some success. good for him and the Pirates,

docdon385

Unless I’m mistaken, both Keller and Brubaker are entering their arbitration years next year and will be UFAs in 2026. That leaves three years for them to really make an impact on the team assuming the arbitrators don’t think they’re worth more money than the Pirates want to pay them. Should the Pirates consider extending them now that they actually look like they might become major league pitchers?

Keller will be 30 and Brubaker 32 by then so someone could argue their best years will be behind them but the argument that they’re only hitting their stride then could also be made. Cole didn’t really become the pitcher he is now until his late 20s and is now 31 and going strong. Keyshaw is 34 now and not the pitcher he was a couple of years ago because of injuries but is still pretty fair. Scherzer is 38 and usually dominant. I’m not comparing these guys to them and other pitchers have pretty much worn out by age 32. Tim Lincecum as an example but he hit his peak in his early to mid 20s then declined.

As we all know the Pirates haven’t done much extending under this owner so this is probably not even a discussion, but I would hate to see the Keller everyone has hoped for and struggled with pitching for the Yankees or someone else in a few years and once again thinking “if only.”

skliesen

I’m a enthusiastic supporter of extending Keller, and just as enthusiastic no on extending Brubaker. As a matter of fact I’m hopeful the promotion of Priester to Pittsburgh next summer will push Bru to the pen.

I envision the rotation next summer will be Contreras, Keller, Priester, Burrows, and a TBD Veteran LHSP.

Timbertopper

Agree about Brubaker. His stuff is just too hittable. Makes too many mistakes in the zone. Still small sample size for Keller but if he can carry this through the end of the year, I could see exploring a team-friendly extension to buy out his arbitration years.
A little cost-certainty for the bean counters.

ArkyWags

I’d buy out a year, maybe two tops. For them, they may jump on that because it’s guaranteed money. Maybe club or mutual options?

James_Robert5

Yes, extend both sooner than later

PirateRican21

Well written argument, I will say no in extending either.

b mcferren

better to be lucky than good

PirateRican21

Right now he’s a middle of the rotation starter, I will take that all day, but would love to see more Ks.

TNBucs

“The offense disappears on a lot of nights.” 

And yet here is what Persak wrote this week (wrt lineups and who gets to play in an article about whether prospects will see more time in the remainder of the season):

“Manager Derek Shelton and his staff plan it out long in advance. Based on probable pitchers, defensive matchups, various playing time needs and all manner of things, they try to get an idea for who will play in which games and when some players could see a day off.”

Maybe they’re overthinking things–at the very least what they’re doing doesn’t seem to work on a consistent basis. Maybe they should look at simplifying things–try rolling out the same lineup for 5-6 days in a row and see if by the 3rd day or so we start seeing some consistency. They could still tweak things against lefties, for example, but I’ve never seen a team where an everyday player moves batting spots so frequently. If it seemed to be working, that would be one thing but…

skliesen

I understand having a plan, but in the immortal words of Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Pirates mgmnt hasn’t responded to adversity well this year. Combine that with the obvious service time manipulation with Cruz and Contreras, and there’s no denying this management team has been overmatched this year.

Wilbur Miller

A “plan” often just becomes an excuse for bad results. Like NH prattling about “process,” or the Pirates always saying they’ll spend when the time is right. We’ve got a bunch of no-upside deadenders batting .180? That doesn’t mean we made a bunch of stupid moves. Oh, no, it’s just part of the plan.

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