Keller Comes Out Strong Against The Padres

Through his first five starts of the season, Mitch Keller has been the very definition of Jekyll and Hyde; either wild and outside of zone, while hanging sliders for batters to punish, or in command and pounding the zone as he fools hitters with the off speed and overpowers them with the fastball. The strangest part of all of this is that there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the change in approach, execution or overall performance. He just either pitches really well or he doesn’t; and last night in San Diego was no different.

Once Keller took the mound, as every Pirates Fan peaked through their fingers, just like they were watching a horror movie and didn’t know when the monster was going to reveal himself from around the corner. However, this time the monster didn’t show up; so these same fans slowly put their hands down, got very relaxed and enjoyed a late night contest between the Pirates and the Padres.

Over 5.2 innings of work Keller did not allow a run, gave up only 2 hits, struck out 5 and walked two on 83 pitchers, with 48 of them going for strikes; which if I am nitpicking, that is my only real concern. However, this is also relying on the fact that a clear, consistent and correct strike zone had been called all night; a rarity from what I have seen so far this year.

With the bats the Pirates were more formidable than they had been during the previous two games; compiling 10 hits and only striking out 3 times. However, they were only able to produce 2 runs as these hits never really got strung together.

On this night it was enough for a 2-1 victory over a tough opponent in the Padres, who have a +38 run differential, the best in the league; to the Pirates -27, which is second only to Detroit’s horrendous -66.

News and Notes:

  • Kyle Crick and Richard Rodriguez still have not given up a single run this year. In a combined 23.1 innings, the pair have allowed only two hits, walked 6 (5 for Crick) and struck out 20.
  • Adam Frazier, Bryan Reynolds and Colin Moran have been part of a very solid top of the order for the Pirates so far this season. Now if they could only find a guy to put in the 2 spot everyday. On that note Ke’Bryan Hayes took soft toss and around 10 overhand pitches from one of the team’s coaches.
  • Erik Gonzalez had one of the more heads up plays I have seen in a long time. Breaks from second, notices the second baseman is leisurely play Stallings’ ground ball and doesn’t let up; scoring what would turn out to be the deciding run.

  • Bryan Reynold is looking comfortable from both sides of the plate, almost to a fault. In his breakout 2019 season Reynolds slashed .264/.318/.438 with 5 homers from the right versus .334/.401/.530 with 11 bombs from the left. This year he is producing .400/.455/.700 with a homer from the right and .250/.352/.355 with one home run from the left.
  • I still need to see this version of Mitch Keller for more than one game at a time. This year has always had the goal of Keller looking better in August than he did in April, and I need to keep reminding myself of this instead of living and dying to start to start with a young man that know still only has 22 career starts.

The Buccos and the Friars are back at it again tonight, and a little bit earlier, with an 8:10 PM EST start. For your Pittsburgh Pirates, JT Brubaker (2-2, 2.63 ERA) will toe the rubber against Yu Darvish (3-1, 2.13 ERA) for San Diego.

Published by Craig W. Toth

Former Contributing Author at InsidethePirates.com, Co-Host of the Bucs in the Basement Podcast and life-long/diehard Pittsburgh Pirates Fan!

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