The Glendale Desert Dogs came into Tuesday afternoon with a 5-1 record and they were sending Mitch Keller to the mound for his second start. He threw three shutout innings last Wednesday. Logan Hill was the lone Pirate position player in the lineup, while Brandon Waddell made an appearance late in the game. It was a tie game into the ninth, then things got out of hand and Glendale lost 10-1.
In the first inning, Keller started off with a fly ball to left field for the first out. One pitch later, he had his second out on a grounder to shortstop. Keller then walked the next batter on four pitches, although GameDay had three of those pitches catching the corner of the plate. After a stolen base, the next batter went 2-2 before singling in a run. That was followed by a pop out to shortstop to end the inning.
Keller threw just seven strikes out of 16 pitches, but if GameDay is correct, then that is extremely misleading. Three of those nine balls caught the corner and four were completely in the strike zone.
In the second inning, Keller battled to a full count, ending the at-bat on eight pitches. Just like in the first inning, everything was around the plate. Keller got the first batter to fly to center field, then the second out was a fly to left. He ended the inning on a swinging strikeout. This was another 16-pitch inning, this time with ten strikes, although just like in the first inning, the umpire was calling nothing on the corners…or in the zone sometimes (see the bottom of this article for two examples).
In the third inning, Keller allowed a lead-off single. That was followed two pitches later by a grounder to second base, which resulted in an out at second. After a stolen base, a grounder to shortstop moved the runner to third base with two outs. Keller got out of the inning on a full count called strikeout. This was a 19-pitch inning, 11 going for strikes.
Keller came out for the fourth and got two ground outs on nine pitches. At 60 pitches for the game, he was done for the day. In 3.2 innings, he allowed one run on two hits and a walk, while striking out two batters.
UPDATE: Jim Callis from MLB Pipeline was at the game and had a nice recap, including notes on Keller’s pitch selection, which was 46 fastballs, eight curves and six changeups, with just one change going for a strike. He noted that it was a lot of fastballs for the outing, which I’d say it’s a high percentage, but typical of the first 60 pitches of a start. Keller mixes his pitches up better later in outings, so he may have to adjust his approach for a shorter game. Of course, Keller may have been instructed to work on his fastball command this game, which we wouldn’t know without talking to him. You want to see results here, but it’s a great place to concentrate of certain aspects of your game and just throw results out the window.
Brandon Waddell came on to pitch the seventh inning, making his third appearance. He came into the day with two runs allowed over three innings. The first batter he faced hit a double. One pitch later, he had his first out on a fly ball. Waddell battled the next batter for seven pitches before getting a swinging strikeout. He got out of the inning with another swinging strikeout. He threw 17 pitches in the frame, ten for strikes.
In the eighth, Waddell walked the first batter on a full count pitch. That was followed by a grounder to shortstop, resulting in an out at second base. Waddell then picked up his third strikeout, this one looking. The next batter grounded out to shortstop, as Waddell again worked around a lead-off runner. He threw 33 pitches total, 18 for strikes.
Logan Hill batted fourth today. This was his first game since hitting two homers on Saturday. In the first inning, he walked on four pitches. In the fourth inning, Hill drew his second walk, this time on nine pitches. In the seventh, he tied the game at 1-1 with a sacrifice fly. He hit again in the ninth and singled up the middle, leaving him 1-for-1, with two walks and an RBI.