Pittsburgh Pirates: Is it Time to Gain Faith in Mitch Keller?

The Pittsburgh Pirates desperately need their pitching staff to take a step forward.  One of those arms could be on his way.

It has been a long time since Mitch Keller was rated as one of the top 50 prospects in Baseball.  The Pittsburgh Pirates have not seen the results that one would want from a former top prospect.  Then again, there is a difference between being serviceable, good, or flat-out bad.  Keller, for most of his career, has been bad.

However, there have been so reasons to believe in the Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander.  In Spring Training fans heard a lot about Keller’s increase in his fastball velocity.  So far he has held onto the velocity averaging 96.1 miles per hour.  This is nearly 2.5 miles per hour higher than last year.

So the increase in velocity obviously has been a good sign.  The other difference is that Keller has finally learned how to get some movement on his fastball.  The biggest knock on Keller coming up was that his fastball stayed flat.  He is now throwing a sinker and is throwing it hard at an average of 95 miles per hour.  Looking at his Baseball Savant page from last year, Keller did not throw any sinking fastballs.

So is it time to start to open the door for Mitch Keller to turn into a serviceable starter or more?  Over his last 4 appearances, Keller has an era of 2.65, which is obviously impressive.  Still, his era on the year is north of 5, but at one point in May it was over 6 so he is working it down.

His last outing against the Detroit Tigers was one of the best of his career.  He went 6 strong innings only allowing 1 run.  Meanwhile, he struck out 7 while only allowing 6 total base runners.  Obviously, Detroit is not expected to do much but they still have a strong lineup that can put up runs.  It was a good sign from Mitch Keller and a good sign for the Pittsburgh Pirates.