Pittsburgh Pirates: 3 Takeaways From Series Split Against The Tigers

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 19: Felipe Vazquez #73 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates with Elias Diaz #32 of the Pittsburgh Pirates after defeating the Detroit Tigers during inter-league play at PNC Park on June 19, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 19: Felipe Vazquez #73 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates with Elias Diaz #32 of the Pittsburgh Pirates after defeating the Detroit Tigers during inter-league play at PNC Park on June 19, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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PITTSBURGH, PA – JUNE 18: Mitch Keller #23 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers during inter-league play at PNC Park on June 18, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA – JUNE 18: Mitch Keller #23 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers during inter-league play at PNC Park on June 18, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

It was a step in the right direction for Mitch Keller

On Tuesday night, Mitch Keller made his third career MLB start. While Keller still had some trying moments, it was, by far, his best start yet. For the first time, he really looked comfortable on the mound and like he belonged.

In 5 innings of work Keller allowed just four hits, he did not surrender a home run, and he walked just two batters. He was charged with 4 runs in his 5 innings of work, but only 2 of them were earned. He also recorded six strikeouts.

While it still was not where he wants or needs it to be, Keller’s fastball command was the best it has been yet. He left a few pitches over the plate and got burnt for it, but for the most part he put his fastball where he wanted to. The natural movement his fastball possesses helped, too.

His slider continues to flash as a plus pitch as well. He threw 60% fastballs in his start, and struggled with curveball command, but most of the sliders he threw were good ones.

In all honesty, the biggest mistake Keller made came in the top of the 4th inning when he threw a Harold Castro sacrifice bunt attempt away. This put runners on second and third with no one out, which led to the Pirate bringing the infield in. With the infield in, Jung Ho Kang then committed an error that allowed a pair of runs to score.

If Keller properly makes his play, or Kang makes his, then his start looks even better. Also, he likely would have pitched an additional inning due to his pitch count being lower.

All in all, Tuesday’s start was a big step in the right direction for Keller. While he was optioned to Triple-A for the returning Trevor Williams on Wednesday, hopefully, Keller can still use this start to build his confidence and make it something he can build off of before his next MLB start.

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