Still Sweepless on the North Shore, Phillies Take Game 3, Keller Underwhelming

8-1-21 – By Gary Morgan

With much promise comes much expectation.

Today Mitch Keller fresh off a recall from AAA made his 13th start of the season and his 29th since making his debut back in 2019.

In 2019 he was baseball’s 7th ranked prospect. Not pitcher, not Pirates, in all of baseball he was deemed to be the 7th best prospect. So of course that came with expectation. I’ve seen the media blamed for hype, the organization blamed for hype, well how about looking at the pitcher himself who up until hitting the majors showed a ton of confidence and promise.

His stint in AAA wasn’t great, and no I don’t mean numbers. He needed to work on some things, movement on his fastball, creating more than a 3 MPH separation on his his changeup, and probably more than any of that, needed to start consistently placing his breaking pitches in the bottom of the zone. He did none of those, and my partner Craig Toth was there to see it in person.

So I understandably had some questions when they called him back up anyhow. He got through 5 innings surrendering 4 runs and while some will say it could have been better if this play went this way, I think you could more than cancel those out with the times his defense bailed him out.

The only thing the Pirates were able to locate and change for Mitch was his windup delivery. He had transitioned almost all the way to pitching from the stretch and Joel Hanrahan who is quickly becoming the Pirates pitching fixer found Mitch had more consistency and comfort going with the wind up. I will say, that aspect was at least easier to watch today, but they claim nothing mechanical was altered.

Sounds like a really incredibly nice way of the organization telling a guy it’s in your head young man.

Next year he’ll be out of time. He’ll come into Spring with an opportunity, one that he simply must take, or the Pirates and potentially Oscar Marin will have to move on.

You can get mad and he certainly could never turn out. But I love baseball history. Look at a pitcher like Denny Neagle, he started in the bullpen in 93 and 93 then transitioned to starter in 1994 where he started 24 ballgames to the tune of a 5.12 ERA. In 1995 everything started to click. 31 starts and a 3.43 ERA. The next year was even better before being moved to Atlanta.

Denny was just as promising, and he didn’t just walk in here with everything figured out. Thing is by the time Keller does, I guess I should say if he does, figure it out he too will be on his way elsewhere.

The Phillies beat up more than just Keller in this one, Ponce, and Oviedo let them pile on top of Mitch’s 4 runs to the tune of 13 runs before handing it to Nogowski to let more in and make it an even 15 runs. The Phillies celebrated like they didn’t just drop 2 of 3 to the Pirates while they’re supposed to be in a pennant race.

Now, want a positive from Keller’s outing? He threw many more strikes than he was before being demoted. He also surrendered 8 hard hit balls, 7 over 100 MPH exit velocity. Clearly work to be done.

In the ninth Rodolfo Castro singled and Michael Perez hit a two run shot to make it 15-4.

The Pirates now head out on the road to face the Brewers in Milwaukee.

Newly acquired Bryse Wilson will get the call against Eric Lauer.

News & Notes

  • Hoy Park recorded his first career MLB hit. A well struck double to right. He would later score on a sac fly by Kevin Newman.
  • The Pirates remain without a sweep. They’ve had 8 chances to get this done but it just hasn’t happened.
  • John Nogowski had to finish this one up again today. He’s actually listed as a 1B/RF/P on baseball reference he’s been involved in so many blowout contests and pitched.
  • Luis Oviedo wasn’t expected to struggle this season, even be hidden, after coming this far, he’ll finish the season out and go to the minors, but it’s fair to ask, was he someone they maybe swing and missed on. If he needs two years of development can they afford a 40 man spot that long? Going to be interesting to see how they handle him.
  • Kyle Gibson was really good today, but I question how many pitches they let him throw in this one. If you acquire a guy to help you get to the playoffs maybe don’t try to kill him in his first outing.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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