Pittsburgh Pirates Minors: Mitch Keller Turns In Best AAA Start
By Marty Leap
The Pittsburgh Pirates top prospect continues to look MLB ready
On Tuesday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates kicked off a six-game homestand with a 5-0 loss against the Colorado Rockies. In the loss, starting pitcher Chris Archer continued to struggle. Archer’s struggles combined with injuries to Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams make the Pirates a team in need of starting rotation help.
Tonight, the team will turn to Montana DuRapau as the opener against the Colorado Rockies. There is nothing wrong with this. After all, DuRapau has pitched effectively since being promoted to the MLB level and the Pirates were victorious when using him as an opener this past Saturday in San Diego.
All signs point toward the Pirates needed to use a starter again on Saturday night. After Nick Kingham follows DuRapau tonight, it would appear that Steven Brault will be the man to do so on Saturday. However, the Pirates play a double header against the Cincinnati Reds on Monday and will need to add a starting pitcher for one of those games. This pitcher should be top prospect Mitch Keller.
Entering play on Tuesday Keller was on a good roll at AAA. In his previous 16 starts at AAA, Keller owned a 3.44 ERA, 3.56 FIP, 9.6% walk rate, and a 25.8% strikeout rate in 83 2/3 innings pitched. Mix in Keller adding a slider to his repertoire, and he appears to be a pitcher that is ready for the Big Leagues.
Keller took the mound for the Indianapolis Indians on Tuesday night, and turned in arguably his best start yet at the AAA level. In 7 innings of work he allowed just 1 run on six walks, one walk, and he struck out six. This was his first AAA start in which he went at least 7 innings, and it lowered his ERA on the season to 3.45.
With the Pirates in need of starting pitching help, Keller appears to be turning a corner at the right time. The team needs rotation help, and this help should come from Keller. When they play a doubleheader against the Reds on Memorial Day, Keller needs to start one of the two games.