Mitch Keller has been on a roll lately.
The right-hander has a 2.54 ERA in 28.1 innings over the last month. Those numbers coincide with Keller adding a new sinker to his arsenal, which has also brought a 52.5% ground ball rate in that span.
There are some concerns that Keller could regress from these results. His FIP is 3.70, and the xFIP is lower at 4.43. Keller has been trending up in each of his starts, and the last three indicate that if there is any regression, it would still leave Keller as a solid starter.
There are a lot of small sample sizes at work here, but overall there’s positive momentum for Keller.
Roansy Contreras has been excellent this year, now making nine appearances and six starts. The right-hander has a 2.89 ERA in 37.1 innings, though again that comes with a lower FIP and xFIP. Both numbers are around 4.00, so Contreras would still be a starter with any regression.
The most important thing here is that Contreras is 22-years-old. We can expect more progression to his game as he gets more experience in the majors from a young age. The fact that he’s starting off so strong is a great sign.
The Pirates have a lot of options to add to Keller and Contreras, both in the big leagues and the minors. Most of their options project as back of the rotation guys.
They do have two upper level starters who are emerging ahead of the pack.
Mike Burrows had a 2.94 ERA in 52 innings in Altoona this year, before moving up to Indianapolis. That promotion came after 2019 first round pick Quinn Priester arrived in Altoona.
Both starters have a chance to join Keller and Contreras in the Pittsburgh rotation in the next year. That is almost certain for Burrows if he stays healthy. Priester would need to remain healthy as well, so that he can get the upper level experience he lacks right now.
The Pirates offense this week has been solid after the additions of Oneil Cruz and Bligh Madris to a growing prospect group.
The pitching staff isn’t to a point where this team can be a contender. They do have a group of starters who can help get them there, with two trending up in the majors, and two more on the verge of arriving.
Overall, a lot of positive momentum all around.
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