Pittsburgh Pirates 2022 Staff Predictions: Marty Leap

Mar 18, 2022; Bradenton, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates manager Derek shelton (17) looks on in the fourth inning against the New York Yankees during spring training at LECOM Park. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 18, 2022; Bradenton, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates manager Derek shelton (17) looks on in the fourth inning against the New York Yankees during spring training at LECOM Park. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mar 29, 2022; Bradenton, Florida, USA; Pittsburg Pirates pitcher Mitch Keller (23) throws a pitch in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox during spring training at LECOM Park. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports /

Team Cy Young – Mitch Keller

This was one of the more difficult predictions to make. First and foremost, the Pirate starting rotation likely will not very good this season. At least not until Roansy Contreras arrives and they see if any of the Bryse Wilson, Miguel Yajure, JT Brubaker, Wil Crowe quartet can take a step forward as a starting pitcher.

That said, going to step out on a bit of a limb here and go with Mitch Keller.

I know, I know, we have all heard it before with Keller. “This is the year,” “it’s time for Keller to breakout,” etc., etc. This year, however, things seem different. Not only does Keller’s stuff appear to have more life to it, most importantly he finally looks confident on the mound.

Throughout the Grapefruit League season Keller did not get rattled. He never appeared to be lacking confidence in himself or his stuff. He looked in control on the mound. These are all things that could not be said about Keller in the past.

Keller’s fastball has added velocity. It now sits in the high-90’s while touching 100 MPH. The pitch also has more movement to it. His slider and curveball have been firmer with more bite this spring. Keller just looks like a completely different pitcher.

Is this a pick that could blow up in my face? Potentially in even spectacularly nuclear fashion? Absolutely. To be honest, had Contreras started the season in the starting rotation instead of Triple-A he would have been the pick.

But Keller appears to have finally turned a corner so let’s see if it pans out. If that does prove to be the case then that completely changes the outlook of the Pirate starting rotation in 2022 and beyond.

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