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Game Thread: Back home to host the Tigers

Pittsburgh Pirates v Atlanta Braves
Mitch Keller
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Detroit Tigers, behind left-hander Daniel Norris (2-5, 4.52) come to PNC Park in Pittsburgh for a 7:05 p.m. Eastern start, who counter with rookie right-hander Mitch Keller.

Keller, the Pirates’ top pitching prospect, will be making his third major league start, and for the first time makign two in succession. In each of his first two starts, and especially in his debut, Keller struggled mightily to establish himself in the first inning. In total, he’s allowed seventeen hits in seven innings, while walking four and striking out nine. For Triple-A Indianapolis, Keller had a 3.10 ERA in eleven starts, striking out thirteen in five innings in his last appearance before his most recent promotion.

Norris was originally signed out of high school by the Blue Jays in 2012 and made his major league debut for them two years later, at the age of 21. In mid 2015 Norris was sent to the Tigers in the David Price deal, but hasn’t pitched well since 2016 as he’s bounced up and down to the minors. He’s had a big problem staying healthy, suffering a right oblique strain in 2015, a lower back strain and strained right elbow in 2016, and a left groin strain in both 2017 and 2018 that caused him to lose much time. 2019 so far is his only season to not spend some time in the minor leagues.

In the time that Norris has spent in the majors, he has a career 4.56 ERA in 347 innings, including 4.52 this year, 5.68 in 2018 and 5.31 in 2017. Last year he averaged 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings, but this year that has dropped all the way to 7.2

In 2016 and 2017 Norris averaged over 93 mph with his four-seam fastball, but the last two seasons it’s been 90.1 and 90.5, mixed primarily with a slider and less frequently with a change and curve.

This year Norris has been hit hard by batters on both sides of the plate - a 807 OPS by right-handers on a 304/340/467 line, and an even higher 908 OPS by lefties, with a 267/535/556 line. He’s struck out just 8 of 51 left-handed batters this season.

With both Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison on the injured list, other than Miguel Cabrera and The JaCoby Jones, the lineup is filled with a bunch of unfamiliar names.

With the left-hander Norris on the mound, Melky Cabrera and Jung-ho Kang will get starts over the left-handed batters Gregory Polanco and Colin Moran, leaving Adam Frazier as the only lefty swinger in the starting nine.



1 S Niko Goodrum SS

2 R Nicholas Castellanos RF

3 R Miguel Cabrera 1B

4 L Christin Stewart LF

5 R Brandon Dixon 3B

6 L Harold Castro 2B

7 R John Hicks C

8 R JaCoby Jones CF

9 L Daniel Norris LHP



1 R Kevin Newman SS

2 S Bryan Reynolds LF

3 R Starling Marte CF

4 S Josh Bell 1B

5 S Melky Cabrera RF

6 R Elias Diaz C

7 R Jung-ho Kang 3B

8 L Adam Frazier 2B

9 R Mitch Keller RHP