Pittsburgh Pirates: Strong Starting Pitching Not Enough for Series Sweep

ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 20: Mitch Keller #23 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning at Busch Stadium on August 20, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 20: Mitch Keller #23 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning at Busch Stadium on August 20, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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A weekend of strong starting pitching was not enough for the Pittsburgh Pirates as their latest quest for a three-game series sweep came up short in St. Louis

There are many things that have not gone the way of the Pittsburgh Pirates this season. One of them has been the third game of a series in which the Pirates won the first two games of the series.

This continued over the weekend in St. Louis as the Pittsburgh Pirates won the first two games of their series against the Cardinals before being defeated 3-0 in Sunday afternoon’s series finale. Following the loss the Pirates are now 0-11 this season when going for a series sweep.

Even though the Pittsburgh Pirates failed to cap off the series sweep, it was not due to the work of their starting rotation. Mitch Keller set the tone Friday night with one of the best starts of his MLB career, Dillon Peters followed up with a strong start Saturday night and Steven Brault went 4 strong in Sunday afternoon’s loss.

Friday night Keller allowed 6 hits and issued just a single walk in 5 scoreless innings of work. Keller struck out 6 Cardinal batters in the start, threw 63% of his pitches for strikes and generated a career best 10 whiffs on his fastball.

In his start Keller flashed why he was once a top-50 prospect in all of baseball, as well as why the Pirates continue to give him opportunities despite his struggles. Keller looked more confident on the mound in the start and appeared to be the same way in his post-game media scrum. Hopefully this start will prove to be the beginning of Keller righting the ship and turning things around.

Saturday night Peters turned in his second strong start in as many starts for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In the 5-4 victory, Peters allowed just 1 run on 3 hits, a walk and 3 strikeouts in 5 innings pitched.

The lefty has allowed just 3 runs, 2 earned, on 8 hits, 4 walks and 6 strikeouts in 9.2 innings pitched in two starts with the Pirates. This gives Peters a 1.86 ERA and 3.17 FIP in these two starts. Peters should continue to get plenty of opportunities down the stretch and could pitch his way into entering Spring Training with a roster spot being his to lose.

Finally, on Sunday afternoon, Brault pitched 4 strong innings for the Pirates. While the Pirates wanted Brault to go deeper into the game, after he missed the first four months of the season with a lat strain they will be careful with him.

Brault allowed just 1 run on 5 hits, 2 walks and a strikeout in his outing. He escaped a bases loaded jam and did a nice job in the 1st inning of not allowing a two runners on with one out situation to become any worse than the 1 run he allowed. He was also somewhat snakebitten in the 1st inning as a Paul Goldschmidtt double went off the front of the third base bag.

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Overall in the series Keller, Peters and Brault combined to allow just 2 runs on 11 hits in 14 innings pitched. In their 14 innings of work they did not allow a home run, walked 3 and struck out 10. Yes, the Pirates would have liked to see their starters go deeper into the games this past weekend, it was a good confidence builder start for Keller and Peters, and Brault’s start was another strong one as he returns from injury. While the Pirates once again failed to cap off a three-game series sweep, it was not due to the starting pitching.

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