About two hours before Saturday afternoon’s game, Pittsburgh Pirates’ beat writer Jason Mackey tweeted that former ace hopeful Mitch Keller had been optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis.
Mitch Keller has been optioned to Class AAA.— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) June 12, 2021
Keller, who was placed on the injured list June 6, has struggled at the Major League level. Thus far in 2021, he’s carrying a 4.94 FIP through 47.1 innings of work. Since he debuted in 2019, Keller hasn’t been able to find any consistency, showing promise in one start, only to see it wash away in the following appearance.
Certain 2020 metrics had some Pirates’ fans optimistic about the young Keller’s future when he carried a 2.91 ERA through five starts, but other metrics suggested he’d actually taken a step back from his 2019 outings. His 6.75 FIP was abysmal, and he produced -0.2 fWAR over his 21.2 innings.
Although it’s been said that there’s probably not much for Keller to accomplish in Indianapolis, this could be a situation of the young pitcher needing to get his mind right. Keller’s lack of success on a big league roster has been a primary concern for fans and management alike, and every positive start brought renewed optimism — but that optimism would be fleeting, as another dud would ultimately come to pass.
It’s safe to say that Keller’s status among the organization has been downgraded from future ace to “maybe he can still be a decent starter.” Any hopes the franchise had of finding their next ace in the 25-year-old should have deserted their collective consciousness many starts ago. As we move forward, everybody’s likely hoping that Keller can simply become a consistent and competent Major Leaguer.