40.5 F
Pittsburgh
Friday, December 9, 2022

Pirates Discussion: Mitch Keller Caps Off Strong Season

It was looking like Mitch Keller really wanted to finish 2022 on a high note by shutting the St. Louis Cardinals offense down with only two hits, two walks, a hit by pitch, to go with five strike outs through five innings.

The score was 0-0 heading into the sixth, with Cardinals’ starter (and brief Pirates starter this season) Jose Quintana holding the Pirates offense scoreless through three before being replaced by Miles Mikolas, who kept the Pirates off the scoresheet until the sixth. The Cardinals finally broke through when Albert Pujols connected for a two run HR — his 703rd of his career — off of Keller to put the Cardinals up 2-0. Keller then gave up two more hits — for four hits in the inning after giving up only two through five — and was subsequently replaced by recent acquisition (and former Cardinals reliever) Junior Fernandez.

It was Fernandez’s second career appearance for the Pirates, and he set down all three batters he faced, two by way of strike outs. He’d pitch 1.1 innings in total, with one hit and two strike outs.

In the bottom half of the sixth the Pirates offense finally broke through against Mikolas, when Bryan Reynolds hit a double to center field scoring Jason Delay from second base, after he had led off the inning with a double of his own to make it 2-1.

The Pirates would knot it up at two when Jack Suwinski lead off the inning with his 19th HR of the season. Surprisingly he only has 37 RBI’s on the season to go with the HR’s.

Following Fernandez’s scoreless appearance, Manny Banuelos, Nick Mears, and Yohan Ramirez combined for another 3.2 IP of hitless ball while allowing only a single walk to five strike outs.

The offense went to work in the ninth with the game tied at two. Ke’Bryan Hayes led off the inning on a four pitch walk and then stole second for his 20th steal of the season. Miguel Andújar would follow with a walk of his own. Rodolfo Castro battled through nine pitches to draw another walk and load the bases. To the plate would come Oneil Cruz as Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol went to the bullpen to bring in LHP JoJo Romero. With the game on the line, Cruz didn’t take the bat off his shoulder and, you guessed it, drew yet ANOTHER walk for the Battlin’ Buccos on four pitches for the walk-off walk and 3-2 victory.

Cardinals @ Pirates

Time: 6:35 PM EST

Pirates Starter: JT Brubaker (3-12, 4.58)

Cardinals Starter: Dakota Hudson (8-7, 4.07)

Brubaker Notes: JT Brubaker returns to make his 28th and final start of the 2022 season. In his previous start on September 15th against the New York Mets, Brubaker gave up five earned runs in three innings before leaving with right arm inflammation. It’s good to see the injury wasn’t severe and he’ll get to try and cap off what has overall been his best season in the MLB.

LINEUPS:

Pirates

Cardinals

UPDATE: Brubaker and Marcano return

+ posts

Raised in Cranberry Twp, PA, Jeff attended Kent State University and worked in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, before moving to New Orleans in September of 2012. His background is as an Engineering Designer, but he has always had a near unhealthy passion for Pittsburgh sports. Hockey and Baseball are his 1A and 1B, combined with his mathematical background, it's led to Jeff's desire in diving into analytics. Jeff is known as Bucs'N'Pucks in the comments, and began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2022 after contributing so many useful bits of information in the comment section.

SUPPORT PIRATES PROSPECTS

Pirates Prospects has been independently owned and operated since 2009, entirely due to the support of our readers. The site is now completely free, funded entirely by user support. By supporting the site, you are supporting independent writers, one of the best Pittsburgh Pirates communities online, and our mission for the most complete Pirates coverage available.

Related articles

Subscribe
Notify of
107 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1979andCounting

Just watched replay of game. That’s a very very bad send by Rabelo of Newman. The ball never left the IF. You’re not going to advance two bases there. First and third with one out is perfect set up to the or win the game.

TNBucs

And in general, I see no evidence that Rabelo is better than Cora or that Haines is better than Eckstein. I.e., this management team isn’t any better at identifying quality coaches than the previous one. Marin seems good, but so was Searage for a long time.

TNBucs

Once again watching this team affected my sleep (I know they’re not worth losing sleep over but being a fan isn’t always rational), but as I was tossing and turning that thought did keep coming back to me–why send Newman with one out and your best player coming up?

1979andCounting

Well, Cora was in a league of his own…..repeatedly sending Moran and Stallings which was outrageous. But yes, the coaches need to be on their game, all of them, all of the time. It’s not that big of an expectation, especially when the players are going to make mistakes because they’re so young and inexperienced. The coaches need to be better than Rabelo was last night.

chappy

I know we were meant to lose this year, but you build a decent bullpen next year and keep the talent maturing and this team is really going to start looking good soon.

AdministrativeSky236

I dont love cruz’s swing decision on a 3-0 count, curveball away is something he probably needs to take there

TNBucs

I know Meals was just the messenger in this case, but I can’t tell you how much I dislike seeing Meals delivering a decision about a close call at the plate.

bucsws2014

ugly loss.

PirateRican21

ironmike56

Newman looked safe to me…..
Only way he was out was if mitt nicked his wrist.

His hand was on plate before upper arm was tagged.

forkball

They do play hard until the end

PirateRican21

Newman not Mitchell?

TNBucs

Gut over analytics.

bucsws2014

Newman has a knack for walk offs.

Wilbur Miller

Uh oh. Bae broke the Cards’ bullpen.

bucsws2014

oof. That’s Alvarez-level off-target. Worst throw I’ve seen Cruz make.

AdministrativeSky236

Saw this comment and watched the replay, made me cringe

PirateRican21

I know he’s new to the position and he is a rookie with less than ten games under his belt, but I haven’t seen any prove that Bae is a capable CF.

bucsws2014

IMHO, he can probably field the position with more reps and familiarity, but he’s never going to have a good enough arm to do more than hit cut-offs.

PirateRican21

The arm is what keeping him off SS, so yeah!

1979andCounting

Why are we always talking about our prospects missing a tool or two? It’s really starting to annoy me. I know we aren’t going to have Clemente or Parker suddenly appear from Indy……but how are these kids making million dollar signing bonuses and still aren’t sound all-around players when they get to the show?

AdministrativeSky236

Nicky sticks the only bucco in the AFL starting lineup tonight

AdministrativeSky236

Too early to hope that this means reynolds will be ok moving to left next year, but i can hope

PirateRican21

And that will make easier to move Cruz off SS.

PirateRican21

Make it easier. Unable to edit!

forkball

Count me optimistic. Mainly because of the talent showing from the young guys finally being allowed to play MLB games. I just hope that they keep their best out of spring training instead of playing around with service time. A veteran pitcher and quality C and 1B would complement the young talent well.

robertkasperski

PirateRican21

Andujar the other RBI machine?

skliesen

Ok, does losing only 99 games instead of 100 or more help jump start confidence for next year? Asking for a friend.

docdon385

Maybe it’s time to start giving Cherington credit for knowing how to handle fans. He spent 90% of the year dumpster diving for players and frustrating everyone and then toward the end of a 99-100 loss season has gotten rid of most of them and brought up some younger guys who look better than they did, like that would be hard to do, and suddenly optimism reigns for the off season. “Buy your 2023 season tickets now.”

This team has not been any good all year and despite now having a group of promising young players still isn’t. Everyone is hoping that many of the prospects who spent this year in Altoona or Indy will arrive next year or maybe the next and elevate the level of play. That might or might not happen, but it will take more than that. Major changes (including managerial) and many additions will be needed for the Pirates to start winning. Will Cherington commit to it or will he again revert to thrift store shopping and service time manipulating? Hope springs eternal, but it won’t get you many wins.

robertkasperski

Either or doesn’t matter for me the guys on the roster now give me confidence.

patrick_kelly

Sure a shit feels like they are doing everything they can to not get there.

skliesen

Not going to miss Pujols hitting vs Pirates Pitchers.

b mcferren

“this is my spot…”

famous last words

b mcferren

three homer night for Cruz gets him over .800ops for the year

1979andCounting

Just throwing some caution into the wind……Keller’s ERA ranks 35th in MLB for starters with 162 IP (Keller is a few innings short). So I would phrase him as having had a “strong second half”. The bar is very low for us Pirate fans. It’s always more realistic to look at the comps from across the league. There’s 25 starters who had under 3.35 ERA. We could start to call Keller an “ace” if he gets into that territory. But he’s not in that class yet.

ArkyWags

I don’t think anyone is calling him an ace. But he saved his career and made huge progress. And that’s with being pretty bad for two months. Who’s to say he’s done improving too?

skliesen

Not exactly certain which start in May he introduced the 2-seam FB into his repertoire, but starting on May 18th his ERA started decreasing. Since that start, he pitched 126.1 IP and gave up 44 earned runs, a 3.14 ERA. A bit below the 3.35 ERA you chose as “Ace” material.

Who knows if this is just the beginning of him becoming a much improved SP, or an aberration. But given he has looked better as the season has progressed to both the eye and the stat sheet, should cause us to be hopeful he can become a SP who can match up with most other “Aces” on any given night.

robertkasperski

The heck with caution!!!! ACE!!!! Ok back to reality, Mitch could get to that neighborhood next season if he picks up where he left off. Do I think he is Kershaw, Scherzer, deGrom type? No, but he could be a leader of a young staff and that would make him an ace in the neighborhood but not the high end of the neighbors. I can live with that. Roansy, Ortiz, and Oviedo can fill in nicely in the next year to year and a half and if they are healthy and we have Brubaker or a nice quality vet as the number 5, we suddenly have a really nice staff with Priester, Burrows and the real young guys still to follow. That would make me very happy  😀 ,

TNBucs

Since Keller returned to the rotation on May 31 after a brief stint in the bullpen, he has a 3.22 ERA over 22 starts. He seems to have been a little lucky, though, as his FIP during that stretch was .3.69 and his xFIP 3.81. So he’s somewhere between a TOR and solid mid-rotation starter, but back in May it was a question of whether he could even be a solid back-of-the-rotation starter.

robertkasperski

This is still me hoping that all these guys turn out……………..

comment image

The Cobra

What’s a four year extension for Keller look like? Does 4 year – $28M get it done? Maybe a bit more? This would buy out one of his free agent years and line up nicely with Contreras’ remaining time. A nice 1-2 punch.

bucsws2014

Hard to comp Keller. At the high end is probably Urias, who’s getting $8M but no buyout of FA years. Guy closest to Keller comp-wise is probably Ranger Suarez, whom I imagine Phils will want to extend this winter. So if Suarez gets his deal first, that’ll probably be Keller’s baseline.

skliesen

Be interesting to see how Pirates prioritize extensions. Have to think Keller is fairly high on the wish list, but definitely below Cruz, Reynolds, and maybe even Contreras.

robertkasperski

Given his age, I would be mildly surprised if Reynolds extends instead of hitting the market. He does not of the luxury of a contract ending and him being young enough to seek a huge deal after the extension still. He may have a number that he could take to remain in the Burgh because it is still relatively close to his off-season home and he is not in the spotlight 24/7 here. His is an interesting case.

robertkasperski

The good news, his Agent is Excel Sports Management and not the Boras Agency. There is at least a fighting chance to keep Mitch for his first extension without Boras pushing him to hit the market. It will come down to does Mitch want to make some really good money that will still be life changing and work in a lower profile city or does he want to chase every penny he can get and work in more of a pressure cooker atmosphere? He should talk to Andujar and see what his thoughts are. He as seen what happens to a player in an organization like the Yanks that will over pay for a player that they really want but if adversity hits the player, they can get buried in a heartbeat.

Wilbur Miller

It looks like a document with a Yankees letterhead.

The Cobra

I hope that’s tongue in cheek because why even follow if that’s out of Nutting’s comfort zone.

Wilbur Miller

I’ve spent about 6-8 years now arguing that, as cynical as Pirate fans are about Nuttin’s cheapness, they’re STILL underestimating how severely suffocating his spending constraints are. And I’m still waiting for any evidence that I’m wrong.

Anthony

You are likely underestimating the costs to operate an MLB franchise.

john_fluharty

I think he’s been staring at this train wreck for too long to allow for much optimism. Nutting did sign Hayes. Why bother if he wasn’t willing to sign others? I think they’ll at least try to do that this winter.

EightMenOut

As hard as it might be for Pirate fans to accept, a few things have happened in September which point towards the Pirates being a good team next year. Ortiz, Oviedo, and Andujar have been some good additions. Here are the current options for next year:

3b/SS/2nd: Hayes, Cruz, Bae, Castro
1B: need someone who can OPS above 800 and play good defense
LF/CF/RF: Andujar, Reynolds, Suwinski
C: need someone who can OPS above 700 and play good defense
Starting Pitching Options: Keller, Contreras, Oviedo, Ortiz, Wilson, Brubaker, Need a couple of legit “3” starters.
AAA starters that are soon to be ready: Priester, Burrows, Bolton
Relievers: Lots of options, especially if a couple of starters are added
Non-pitcher Bench/Other: Mitchell, Castillo, CSN, Swaggerty, Marcano
Wildcards: E Rodriguez, H Davis, Peguero, others.

First time in a number of years that I’m thinking next year may really have some promise. I also am not in the club that thinks almost everything the Pirates mgmt does is dumb and stupid. Some of it has worked in the last few years, and some of it has not. This off season they now have a chance to add in order to put together a legit above 500 team, hopefully they will do so.

ArkyWags

While I think they have some bright spots, that outfield you put together will have horrific defense.

docdon385

Your last 5 words say it all. I refuse to accept that Pirate fans are negative as a group. I go into every year with hope and try to be as positive as possible but worthless waiver claim after worthless waiver claim make it nearly impossible to remain hopeful for long.

I for one do not believe that management is either dumb or stupid. I believe they have a plan and are sticking to it. The problem is that there is no way of knowing what that plan might be because they are so secretive about it. My concern is more about whether they are being sincere or deceptive when there is talk about building a winner.

Pirate fans have simply become realists and all the talk and false hope in the world does nothing without action by management that we all would like to actually see instead of just hope for.

robertkasperski

Yeah, every team in every sport is about as transparent as the Mon after a heavy rain. No one really says a word about anything that they are planning. The difference is, when the team is competing for championships, no one really cares because they are winning. Look at the Steelers for local teams. They always have operated the same but for the last 10 years when things have been down from where they have been, people are now complaining about them and their lack of transparency. Belichick is the absolute worst but his fans have not cared because….winning.

skliesen

Actions, not words, tell the story. Going into the season without even 3 OF on the roster, a starting C who has never made it through a season unscathed, and a pitching staff woefully short in quality depth, doesn’t lend a reasonable person to believe the GM has any desire to compete for anything but a high draft choice.

However, because the Owner doesn’t prioritize winning or building a fan base, I’m certain the GM will not be held accountable for this utter failure of a season.

Anthony

Here lies the number one misconception on this board, good decision making is not evaluated on results.

I absolutely agree that their actions w/r/t roster construction coming into the year signaled no real intention to be competitive. The expectation was set in Feb/Mar, so why are we talking about this now?

If the build or rebuild is a multi year plan, which it obv is, then the decisions will have second, third, and fourth order consequences. This is more than just basic first order thinking. Instead of trying to analyze every single decision in a vacuum, think like THEY think, and you won’t need transparency.

john_fluharty

One of the biggest problems with Nutting is his lack of transparency, for sure. I mean how hard would it be to come right out and say that the money we didn’t spend in the past will be available in the future.

Anthony

Negotiating leverage to agents?

EightMenOut

The Archer trade in 2018, Taillon needing TJ surgery (again) in 2019, Vazquez getting arrested because of sexual misconduct with a minor in 2019, and the minor leagues not having a lot of prospects coming up just laid to waste the 2019-2021 seasons.  No new management team was going to quickly come back from all of that, and a small market team was not going to spend multi-millions just to win 10-15 more games while still being out of the playoffs.  I think you can blame this 2022 99-101 loss season on the current management team and ownership not making smarter moves, but success in 2022 was always going to be difficult. Now pieces are in place, so this off season and 2023 is the time to really grade out how good management is, and how much ownership is willing to spend to attempt to make the playoffs.

Catch_22

Honestly, I would roll with something like this

C – Perez
1b – legit trade/FA
2b – Newman
3b – Hayes
SS – Cruz
LF – Suwinski
CF – Reynolds
RF – legit FA/trade
DH – legit LH platoon bat / Andujar

P – Keller
P – Quintana (or another quality arm)
P – Roansy
P – Brubaker
P – Oviedo

Bench – Bae, backup C, Andujar, Castro

I’d go with Newman at 2b because he’s really the only one that can play the position competently. Bae will bounce between 2b, lf, cf & occasionally ss. He’ll get plenty of run as a Super U

Todd

Your line-upas too many AAAA types. Newman has zero power, Perez is too old, Brubaker has shown no improvement, Oviedo is a big ?. Reynolds should be back in
LF (CF defense awful) & Bae or Swaggart in CF

BuccoinTN

Substitute Ortiz for Brubaker. Brubaker has shown nothing as a starter and it is time to try him out of the pen. Can’t go deep into games, and doesn’t pitch well for the limited time he is in there. Would go with Bae over Newman at 2B. Totally agree on LHSP (Quintana?), C (could live with Perez as placeholder for kids), LH 1B, and a RF.

skliesen

You lost me at Newman as starting 2B. Pirates biggest issue is scoring runs. I don’t care how many runs Newman saves compared to Castro or Bae, his offense is significantly worse than those two. Ergo, Pirates win more with either of them starting over Newman.

Catch_22

You’d be objectively wrong.

Newman is worth 1.3 wins in 77 games, where Castro is worth 0.8 wins in 70 games.

TNBucs

I don’t see us bringing in three “legit” everyday starters (really four when you count Perez) via trades and FA along with a “quality arm”. In theory we should be able to, but I’ve just been too disappointed for too long about our lack of meaningful moves in the offseason. Instead, I think we can hope for three of the five additions you’re recommending or Perez plus two of the remaining four. I’d prioritize the SP and 1B spots to be filled from the outside unless they think Andujar can play 1B.

EightMenOut

I think Newman can be a good shortstop on a good team, but he doesn’t hit for enough power to be a second baseman on a good team. If we are going to stick with Cruz at short (personally I like him in right field shading into the right-center gap, then the center fielder can shift more to the notch, and Cruz’s arm can be a weapon in right, but that appears to be not happening), then we should trade Newman to a team in need of a shortstop.

Catch_22

Newman is your insurance in case Cruz doesn’t pan out at SS. However, if Cruz does work out at SS, Newman’s lack of power is acceptable with the power Cruz has at the SS position.

Pirates don’t have anyone else that can play SS. Sorry, Bae would be a mess playing SS full-time.

BuccoinTN

Peguero is the SS insurance, Newman will be gone or a non-tender candidate by the time they make a final decision on Cruz at SS.

john_fluharty

One thing I don’t get is how guys that are so fast like him end up being bad shortstops.

robertkasperski

For Cruz, I think it is not the speed, it is his size. I have heard guys like Walk, Walker, and Wehner make comments about footwork and mechanics and him needing to continue the work that he puts in and keep working at it to keep refining things. His size and strength can accentuate a bad throw so he really needs to be as good as he can be with his body positioning, footwork etc. to make the horrid throws a rarity and not commonplace.

john_fluharty

Was referring to Bae. Should have been specific. 🙂

robertkasperski

No worries. He has been bounced around to other positions too since he has been competing against Cruz and Peguero at SS, Castro, Castillo, Gonzalez at 2B (Johnson now at both) so now is working in OF in CF and LF. Having to work on 4 positions and look really good at all to get playing time somewhere. If he can stay healthy and hits in the show like he has been in the upper minors, could be the answer for super utility. I agree with BNP, Not really bad at SS but just having really strong competition.

robertkasperski

See what I said to John F.

AdministrativeSky236

Mitchell is LH DH, RF, or bench bat is a viable option as well imo. He was really good in AAA this year, and I am a believer he can be a big league hitter, though hopefully not in the field much

Catch_22

Mitchell hasn’t earned anything at the MLB level. He has options and would be in AAA as depth.

I’m trying to win…no more tryouts at the MLB level

john_fluharty

There’s always going to be tryouts at the major league level. Hopefully not quite as many will be needed going forward.

Last edited 2 months ago by john_fluharty
Catch_22

If you get a real 1bmen, a real RF’er and a real DH…that team can win some games.

Catch_22

Problem with getting a real CF’er that can hit is they cost a lot. It would be nice if they could just plug in Swag, but obviously they’re seeing something they don’t like. I just don’t want to see the next Jarrod Dyson out there.

I’m not sure why I put Andujar out there, I would redact that and add a 4th OF’er that hits RH.

EightMenOut

Agreed about being cautious with the optimism. But, this time last year we needed an upgrade at LF, RF, SS, 2nd, 1st, C (debatable), and 4 starters, and probably some bullpen arms. So they are a good bit ahead of that, so a 20 game swing is not out of the question, with the younger players showing some real promise. But sure, players like Suwinski could pumpkin and things go downhill, or he could figure out how to hit on the road, play most everyday and hit 35 homers.

Wilbur Miller

Ortiz and Oviedo are huge developments, added to Keller and Brubaker. A year ago it looked like it might be Roansy and pray for rain. They could actually assemble a major league rotation next year and have depth to boot. And I’d still like to bring back Q, although I know they won’t pursue it.

john_fluharty

With two bad years followed by one good year, how likely do you think he’ll be asking for a long-term big money contract?

Wilbur Miller

He’s not going to get a Scherzer deal, of course. But BC won’t even look into it. The relevant question isn’t how expensive Q will be, it’s whether he’ll cost anything at all.

AdministrativeSky236

You win some and you lose some with development, so I agree that those are huge because say one or two of priester, burrows, etc. struggle to establish themselves immediately, similar to keller, they have much less pressure to come up and immediately carry the staff

joesolo6181

It took a very long while but it appears Keller is now a killer on the mound. Very happy for him. He had a great year with the Pirates instead of another organization, which is what happened with Glasnow. It was stupid on the Pirates part to make Glasnow a relief pitcher with questionable control. I thought they would do the same thing with Keller and then move him for a washed up pitcher with a reasonable contract.

b mcferren

I enjoyed seeing Cruz’s bat voodoo at the end of the game hanging the bat from the dugout ceiling after going hitless with it the entire game

Cobra

Junior Fernandez final 3 pitches to Nootbaar:
98.2 sinker
99.3 four-seam
99.6 four-seam

PirateRican21

So he couldn’t hit a 100. I will take Dejong.

Wilbur Miller

It was enough to leave Nootbaar like . . .

warrior-fallen-combat-dead-injured-viking.jpg
Cobra

Ben Cherington: “hey it took me until September but even a blind squirrel can find one upside middle reliever all season on waivers”

Maybe we haven’t seen enough of these guys to be disappointed yet but would love to see what a healthy combo of : Bednar, Holderman, Yerry & Fernandez could do. Throw in DeJong with Tahnaj Thomas in mix, with long reliever candidates in maybe Kranick, Yajure ,Beede, Crowe or Brubaker

I think I’ve seen enough of the rest. And no sense spending FA money on a crap shoot middle relievers (see eg Hembree) since the elite ones will be out of Big Bob’s price range & our talent evaluators in the organization dont’ exactly have a stellar track record on bullpen help. What will happen is we will sign a question mark reliever for 7 figures and be stuck with that guy through Memorial Day because he cost $ and Ben doesn’t want egg on face. Spend $ on proven starters, and bump our questionable starters to Pen . Two for 1

john_fluharty

I like the idea of Kranick in the pen.

Wilbur Miller

Probably inevitable. He’s just not holding up as a starter.

PirateRican21

I personally like Ramirez sinker-slider combo, the movement on both are intriguing.

john_fluharty

Good to see Bru back and healthy.

PirateRican21

Brubaker? We want Wilson! Hopefully he comes in long relief!

robertkasperski

Would love Wilson to pitch one more time too to see if he could repeat the last start against the Cards. I agree with Wilbur that Oviedo an interesting way to finish as well.

Wilbur Miller

Looks like Oviedo to finish the season. Interesting way to end it.

TNBucs

That probably means that we’ll see Wilson early tonight. I worry a little that pitching Oviedo a second time within a week against the Cards is setting him up to go into the offseason on a sour note, but that wouldn’t be all bad.

b mcferren

moar pewhoes homers

PirateRican21

He battle last time out without great command, if he shows the command he had against the Reds….

Share article

Latest articles

PIRATES PROSPECTS WEEKLY

Latest comments

107
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x