Pirates Prospects Daily: Mitch Keller Struggles Continue Against Oakland Athletics

Watching Mitch Keller develop into the pitcher he has become over the last couple of seasons is honestly one of my favorite things I’ve done following this organization.

It’s been ugly, but the turnaround has absolutely been worth the wait.

Keller found another level this year, even been added into some of the early season Cy Young conversations.

After a couple rough starts during the Pirates west coast road trip, it seemed like a little home cooking against the worst team in the majors was the recipe Keller needed to get back on track.

It was far from that, as he allowed five earned runs on eight hits and four walks across 5.1 innings pitched. The single strikeout he registered was the lowest of the season for him, and the fourth time he’s done that in the majors.

There’s been somewhat a fine line that Keller has been walking this season, something maybe has been exposed recently. While he’s putting up the strikeouts, (87th percentile for K%, according to Baseball Savant), he’s doing it in a little more unconventional way.

Keller currently has the fourth most called strike calls with 228, which has been a big driving force behind his success in striking batters out. His hasn’t been great at getting hitters to chase (46th percentile) or generating swing and miss (30th percentile whiff%), instead relying on his pinpoint control to rack up the strikeouts.

With the control varying as of late, it’s opened the door for more contact to be made against him – and some added walks as we saw against in Oakland. In his last three starts Keller has allowed 25 hits and seven walks (across 17.1 innings pitched).

This is a big part of not only being a major league pitcher, but also a successful one. Teams adjust to you, now it’s time to push back against the league.

Keller has shown the ability to do so before, we will see if he can do it again.

Prospect Notes

— An injury really derailed the start of the season for Jack Brannigan, he’s starting to make up for lost time. After hitting his first home run on the season Sunday, he followed that up with two more on Tuesday. He finished the day 3-for-5 with two home runs, a double and six RBI.

He’s an intriguing player with some tools, who got off to a strong start last year before going a little cold by the end of the season. I really thought he had a chance to move straight to Greensboro to start the year, and now that he’s healthy he may be able to start pushing that.

— There were times where Anthony Solometo didn’t put himself in the best of situations, but he dug deep and got out of any jam he was in. It wasn’t the cleanest starts for him, but regardless he finished the night with 6 IP, 5 H, R (unearned), BB, 4 K.

He hasn’t allowed an earned run in each of his last three starts, and has an 1.60 ERA over his last 33.2 IP since the start of May.

Daily Video Rundown

Rodolfo Nolasco nearly goes down to one knee to hit this absolute bomb for the Marauders, routing Dunedin in the first game of their weekly series.

In his first full season of pro ball, Owen Kellington is navigating through the ups and downs that come with it. He picks up a couple of strikeouts in the first inning of his latest start.


By Tim Williams

Looking for the Prospect Watch, Pirates Recap, and a place to discuss the games? Check out our new daily feature, Pirates Prospects Live.

P2Live: Pirates Lose Big to A’s; Henry Davis Debuts for Indianapolis

**Ryan Palencer wrote about Carmen Mlodzinski’s improvements in the Indianapolis bullpen.

**The Pirates officially announced the Henry Davis promotion to Indianapolis, while moving Abrahan Gutierrez to Altoona.


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Mitch Keller is one confusing player. Everyone has a few bad games, but even Walker and Greg Brown we commenting on how his mechanics just seemed off last night. When I watch off nights for other top pitchers, seems like they might lose their feel for the breaking ball, for example, but generally don’t lose their overall mechanics.

Just my perception, I don’t pretend to know enough about pitching to know one way or the other. I’m going to reserve judgement for a few starts and see how he rebounds.

Sure does give me pause though on that 6 year $112 M extension. I get his contract is coming up soon and we could be losing value by waiting, but dang he’s gotta show me he can perform at a high level for at least one entire season.

Last edited 3 months ago by clemo83

You hear scouting types talk about “athleticism” leading to repeatability and repeatability leading to command. I could be completely wrong, but Mitch doesn’t strike me as a jump-out-the-gym athlete. Maybe just losing that little bit of body control, I don’t know.


Pitchers have a bad game now and then but it’s 3 games in a row for Keller, and he is looking more like the 2020-2021 version…


Murph you sonofabitch; I was about to post last night about how weirdly Keller has gotten to his strikeouts and thought nah, don’t be that guy.

Thanks for doin’ the work!


I loved that homerun swing from Nolasco.


Malcom Nunez, Gorski, love watching these dudes rip it.


It would be soooooooooo nice if their power translated to the majors.


BTW: DeJong needs to go…


Both he AND Robbie Z. Who do we bring up from Indy to replace them? Let the speculation begin.


Stratton and Mlod.


I saw Priester against Columbus and he was to be kind awful, couldn’t throw a strike if his life depended on it, so he would be a NO at this time for me…

Waiver wire to replace DeJong anyone would be an improvement…


Three relatively poor starts in a row, if that’s not concerning, what’s just as concerning as he has reverted back to old Keller way too many base runners, so a hold on talks about any contract extensions until the real Mitch Keller is revealed…


As long as Keller isn’t fighting through an injury, I think he’ll be ok. I have faith Marin can sort out any mechanical issues he may be having to cause his sudden loss of consistency.


At the risk of starting another discussion, “Let’s hope”. 😎😎😎😎


Things were going too good! He’ll make the adjustments.

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