9-3-21 By Craig W. Toth (aka @bucsbasement on Twitter)
Heading into last night’s game I was already dreading the game recap that would follow due to Mitch Keller’s start being pushed back a day, making it fall right in line with mine and Gary’s little rotation. Since being recalled from his demotion to Triple-A Indianapolis on July 30th, and after a somewhat pedestrian 3.21 ERA and 1.43 WHIP stint in the Minors, Keller had posted a 6.20 ERA and 1.82 WHIP in five starts. He did however have a solid outing against the Cardinals back on August 20th (5IP/6H/0ER/1BB/6K), so was always possible for him to have a successful trip to the mound versus a depleted post trade deadline Cubs lineup; which is exactly what happened.
Over 6 innings of work, Mitch Keller was the pitcher most of us had envisioned he would be when he first arrived in Pittsburgh back in 2019. The velocity on his fastball was back up to near his yearly average, but more importantly he was locating it as evidenced by the 15 called strikes; setting up his slider and seven whiffs on this particular pitch in the process.
Now I am not getting overly excited about Keller considering he went on bad start, good start pattern to begin the season. For Keller I honestly need to see a string of positive outing, or at the very least two in a row before I begin to have a different interpretation of the type of pitcher he is. Still, Pirates Fans can’t get on Twitter today and blame him for the Pirates 6-5 11th inning loss to the Cubs, so there’s at least one positive.
News and Notes
- Colin Moran, when healthy, has become the second most consistent hitter on the Pirates. And no that isn’t a slight at Moran or the team in general due to their awful production at times this year. Colin Moran has just learned to flat out hit over the past two seasons. Going with the path of the ball, not always focusing on the pull and all honesty just taking what pitchers give him in order to make them pay; whether it be for an single through a gap or an opposite field three run bomb like the one last night.
- After Mitch Keller’s marvelous outing Chad Kuhl entered the game for his five relief appearance in a row since returning to the team from the COVID-19 injured list; and there is no sugarcoating this one. Kuhl faced a total of 7 batters, allowed six hits-two for homers and gave the Cubs a 5 to 3 lead. Prior to last night’s disaster he had posted a 1.80 ERA and a 1.40, while allowing only one run and striking out 6 in 5 innings. I am still not certain if this is the plan, even if they say it is; but whatever the objective is moving forward it’s still up to Kuhl to execute.
- It’s David Bednar’s World and everyone else is just living in it. On the season the Joe Musgrove Trade Toss-In has a 2.26 ERA, a .95 WHIP and 69 Strikeouts in 55.2 innings of work. Now, anyone that knows me, knows I hate the term closer. However, if I want anyone to pitch a high leverage situation on the staff, it is absolutely Bednar.
- Cole Tucker went 0 for 5 in the leadoff spot with 3 Ks. I want the kid to succeed. I just don’t think the kid will ever succeed.
- The biggest, and unfortunately probably the most memorable play on the night, belongs to Wilmer Difo. For those questioning Shelton’s choice to have Difo in that exact position with the game on the line, I can’t get there no matter how hard I try. Difo is a utility infielder and Hoy Park is a utility infielder. Wilmer Difo’s Major League experience at the position dwarfs Parks, as it does at every other one for that matter. Difo missed the ball. It sucked. He has come up in the clutch plenty of other times this season, especially with the bat as he is hitting .272 with a .715 OPS. He probably won’t be on the team next year. End of story.
The Pirates remain on the Northside of the Windy City for a string of traditional Cubby Day Games, with this one getting started at 2:20 PM EST.
For Pittsburgh, Steven Brault (0-3, 4.57 ERA) is looking to bounce back from his performance last Saturday against the Cardinals, while Alec Mills (6-6, 4.32 ERA)