Pittsburgh Pirates: Mitch Keller’s Promotion Comes With Big Expectations

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates starting rotation has dealt with a lot of injuries this year.  They are finally giving their top pitching prospect an anticipated promotion.

For a couple of weeks now, the Pittsburgh Pirates have skated by with a makeshift rotation.  With starters Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams on the Injured List, the team has used a variety of Steven Brault, Nick Kingham, and reliever openers.  Quite frankly, the strategy has been a disaster and the Bucs have continued to throw the games away using these pitchers.

With all the struggles, the fans, reporters, writers, and everyone else has asked why the Pittsburgh Pirates will not just call up an actual starter?  More specifically, why are they not calling up their top pitching, and overall, prospect Mitch Keller?

Well, it is finally happening!  Late last night, Jonathan Mayo of MLB Pipeline tweeted that the Pittsburgh Pirates were calling Keller up to start on Monday.  The Bucs will take on the Cincinnati Reds on Monday in a doubleheader.  So with there being two games and a banged up rotation it makes sense that the Pirates are finally calling up their top starting pitching prospect.

This report was later confirmed by Stephen Nesbitt of The Athletic, who also tweeted that Mayo was accurate and Keller was getting the call.  Keller will likely be sent down after the doubleheader due to Super-2, as well as him being the 26th man on the roster (teams are granted the 26th man for double headers).

Mitch Keller was the Pittsburgh Pirates second-round pick in 2014.  He came to the Bucs out of a high school in Iowa and passed on his commitment to the University of North Carolina.  The Bucs gave him an over-slot signing bonus worth $1 million; they should be glad that they did.

The 6’2” righty has been nothing short of dominant most of his time spent in the minors.  His overall minor league ERA is 3.06 with two sub 3.00 ERA seasons.  Meanwhile, he has struck out a lot of hitters racking up 499 punch outs in 482.2 innings pitched.  This led Keller becoming one of the top pitching and overall prospects in baseball.  He started the Futures Games last year and flashed an upper 90s fastball and a sharp curveball.  To say Keller’s début has been long awaited would be an understatement.

Keller got off to a rocky start this year in Triple-A after a rough Spring Training.  For Indianapolis, Keller saw his ERA over 5.00 through his first two starts.  However, Keller has rebounded well since and now has an ERA of 3.45 across nine total starts.

He is pitching a lot more confident it seems.  The righty has better command and is striking out more hitters.  So far this year, he has 56 strikeouts in 47 innings pitched, this includes a 10 strikeout performance a few weeks ago.  After, walking 10 hitters through his first three starts, Keller has only walked 10 across his last six starts.  He has been much better of late, which should not be surprising as he has always been a slow starter.

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Tomorrow should be an exciting day for the Pittsburgh Pirates and their fans.  Mitch Keller is not just expected to be good, but one day potentially lead this team’s staff.  That is what happens when you’re ranked as a top 25 prospect in baseball.  Tomorrow is his chance to start showing why there has been such anticipation for his arrival.