Let’s get this one out of the way. Yes, everyone has been waiting for Mitch Keller to break out. But the leash is getting shorter and shorter for the former prospect. But maybe, just maybe, this can be the year for the soon-to-be 26-year-old.
Keller’s career so far has been everything but ordinary. In 2019, his first taste of big-league action, he had a .475 batting average on balls in play, the highest batting average on balls in play ever in at least 45 innings of work. In 2020, he had a 2.91 ERA but walked more batters than he struck out and had a .104 BAbip in 21.1 innings. That was the lowest mark ever in at least 20 innings of work.
Last season Keller had nine starts where he went at least 5 innings and gave up two or fewer earned runs, but five more starts where he gave up 5+ earned runs in 5 or fewer innings. So based on the numbers we have so far, it’s difficult to tell what’s in store for Keller in 2021.
There’s been zero consistency and bizarre stats to go off of for Keller. But Keller does have a solid four-pitch mix, all of which have the potential to be average or better offerings. The talent and hope are still there for Keller, and maybe this will be the year we see him put it all together. If it is not, then his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates will not last much longer.