It was far from the best of days for Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Mitch Keller. Many were hoping to see some progress this season for the 24-year-old from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, but it just hasn’t happened so far this spring, and his outing yesterday in a 10-9 defeat to the Tampa Bay Rays was one of his worst.
Keller was shellacked, finishing the game with an ugly line of 8 credited runs off of 10 hits and 3 walks in two innings of action. Keller struck out just a single batter and simply didn’t have it from the start, as the Bucs were down 3-0 in the blink of an eye and that wasn’t even the worst of it, as Keller gave up a homer in the second and two more in the third before being pulled.
Keller’s disastrous game gives him a cringe-worthy line for the spring, as he’s 0-1 over three starts, giving up 12 earned runs and 15 hits in just five innings for a whopping ERA of 21.60 and a WHIP of 3.600. Yikes.
Those of us pulling for some signs of life with Keller were disappointed, and that includes Pirates manager Derek Shelton and Keller himself. Shelton told the Trib:
“I think he was probably frustrated. Fastball command has been an issue. He continued to miss up. When he tried to go away, he ended up cutting across it. So it’s some things we do have to clean up. Mentally, I assume he’s frustrated — and rightfully so, after not commanding the ball. It’s something we’ll talk about after the off day and get him back on track.”
Pittsburgh’s pitching got better after that — and let’s be honest, how could it not — but the Rays smacked another 8 hits along the way and put 2 more runs on the board, with 7 of those hits and both runs coming against Chase De Jong and Richard Rodriguez in just three and a third combined innings.
The shaky mound work overshadowed a pretty solid day at the plate for the Buccos, as they made a valiant run at it despite the big early deficit, and a Nick Gonzalez RBI single in the bottom of the ninth gave a glimmer of hope on the comeback before Tampa’s Chris Mazza was able to shut it down.
But it was a fine day for one of Pittsburgh’s top prospects, as Gonzalez finished 2-for-3 with a double, 2 RBI and 2 runs.
Bryan Reynolds and Colin Moran each both punched two-run homers, while Jared Oliva knocked in 2 RBIs with a double, with Ke’Bryan Hayes continued his solid spring with an RBI single (he’s batting .423 this spring).
Despite the loss, the Buccos showed some gumption by battling back, with some of the prospects leading the way. That’s the positive to take away.
The bigger question is if Mitch Keller will be able to get it together. He has a career 2-6 record over 16 starts with a 5.81 ERA and WHIP of 1.651, and nothing we’ve seen so far this spring suggests things are on a different trajectory.
The Buccos fall to 8-8 in the Grapefruit League, and they are off today but will return to action tomorrow in a televised game against the Baltimore Orioles.
Will Mitch Keller turn it around?
This poll is closed
Yes, he has the talent. Just needs to put it all together.
Yes, but only after the Buccos trade him
Nope, can’t see it.