So far through three starts, Mitch Keller is showing that last year may not have been a fluke. After a shaky season opening start, he has put together back-to-back strong starts. It didn’t necessarily appear that way, as Keller gave up a solo home run in each of the first two innings for a 2-0 deficit.
In the bottom half of the second inning, Jack Suwinski finally did what he did best in 2022, and took a 92 MPH fastball up in the zone and sent it 399 feet into right field for a game tying two-run home run. It was the sophomore outfielder’s first home run of the season.
From there, Keller settled in and went to work against the Houston Astros. He’d end up going six innings with only the two runs against while giving up six hits and two walks, to go with seven strike outs.
Keller has been getting a lot of attention towards his sinker usage since last year, but in this game, it was his new sweeper that he used for 26 of his 94 pitches (28%). The sinker came in tied for fourth with his curveball, thrown 15 times (16%) each. Keller ended up throwing six different pitches in the game: sweeper, cutter (19%), 4-seam fastball (19%), curveball, sinker, and changeup (2%).
With the game tied, off-season acquisition Ji Man Choi didn’t want Mitch to leave empty handed, and blasted his second home run in consecutive days for a 3-2 lead. It flew off the bat 110 MPH and went 418 FT. The offense didn’t stop there, as Ke’Bryan Hayes hit a one-out double, stole third base and then scored on a Canaan Smith-Njiba sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.
Both bullpens combined for scoreless seventh and eighth innings, with Duane Underwood Jr. throwing a quick seventh on 11 pitches and no baserunners, and Colin Holderman allowing one hit to one strike out on sixteen pitches.
The ninth inning is where things once again got interesting. David Bednar entered the game to try and capture his fifth save on the young season, and Mitch Keller’s second victory. After getting the first batter of the ninth to fly out, Bednar induced a ground ball that first-man-up-for-SS Rodolfo Castro committed a throwing error on. That was then followed by a single and a double that knotted the game up at four with one out. Fortunately Bednar worked his way through the rest of the inning to keep the game tied.
On came Astros’ reliever Ryan Pressly to face the Pirates seven, eight and nine hitters. Castro lead off the inning with a single just after his top half throwing error. With one out Derek Shelton pinch hit Andrew McCutchen for Jason Delay, and rewarded the move with a single of his own to put runners on first and second with one out.
This brought up Pirates strongman, Ji Hwan Bae. Bae has been having quite a knack for the theatrics this season. With his impressive, some would say miraculous, catch against the Boston Green Monster, he came through in a big way against the Astros. On 2-2 changeup, Bae connected on the Pirates third home run of the evening to the right field stands for a walk-off three-run home run. It was his second home run of the season, and the Pirates were able to take the second of three, 7-4.
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.
I could listen to the Korean call of those home runs ALL DAY.
A major bummer Keller lost that win. That seemed to happen a few times in the second half of 2022.
Castro lost it for him. He should never play SS at this level. Ever.
Pitcher Wins are going the way of the dodo bird. Both because of usage (shorter outings) and because they mean very little compared to other more useful stats. Wins just don’t tell us much about a pitchers success or failure.
Tell that to the arbitration system. I agree that they matter little to how good a pitcher is. But they still matter to the players and pitchers in particular.
Somewhat related, but not really, that Corbin Burnes arbitration story/interview was wild.
I caught a lot of it second hand. Didn’t the Brewers essentially blame him for not making the playoffs in the hearing?
He definitely left that pissed off and if there ever was a chance that he would stay, I would guess that is way gone by now
That was good. Love the strikeouts from Keller.
Regarding Castro error though, to me it looked like it should have been caught by Santana.
Glad the team won the game despite all!!
It’ll be nicer if Rich Hill can go have a QS today…
Castro played good in the field til that error in the 9th – – – – Cruz would have just as much probability make the same error
Castro two hits – – dude is stepping up
It was a one in a million type thing. He didn’t grab the ball cleanly out of his glove. Never had the ball positioned properly in his hand before throwing it. Won’t see it again all season.
One in a million? That is precisely the most common cause of a throwing error and it happens every day in the major leagues. He did it the day before as well.
This wasn’t the typical throwing error where the player just makes a bad throw. And the saying one in a million is a figure of speech.
If you don’t see that, than you’re not watching.
sources say Kang is in Pirate City, shaking off the dust and will be ready for a call up to return to the big leagues in a few days
Excuse my lack of input in todays game as i unfortunately decided to pony up for pens tickets tonight so apologies for bad showing for the pens and i missed out on the better pittsburgh sports team! Takeaways:
Keller is real.
We will win with cruz not necessarily because of cruz, so now is the time to find the core he will run with.
The value of professional ABs is under-appreciated.
Stadium IPAs hit just as hard, if not harder, than other IPAs
Very well stated. Castro started last year and Bae is proving he was the right choice out of ST. Still wonder about Mathias – think Marcano would be the better guy to get the shot. And, Endy, and Ortiz.
Love the input of ‘Cutch, Choi, Santana, and Joe.
Bank loan to buy the beers?
You are so right about the professional AB’s.