Earlier today, Mitch Keller took the loss on his 24th birthday in our daily 2020 Pittsburgh Pirates simulation.
Five years later, Keller finds himself on the mound again for the Pirates, this time on his 29th birthday. That game takes place in our daily 2025 simulation.
The point of the 2020 season simulation is to give something to follow every day in place of the 2020 season. The 2025 simulation serves a different purpose.
We’re going to be less concerned about the day-to-day results with this simulation, and more focused on where each player is at this point in their simulated careers. We’re also going to focus on how the real-life player can fall short, meet, or exceed the projections in the simulation.
Today we’re going to specifically focus on Keller, since he pitched in both simulated games today. He also might be one of the most important players on the Pirates’ roster for their future chances of winning.
So how has Keller been doing? Let’s take a look at the numbers.
These seem like pretty realistic results from Keller. The results aren’t bad, but since Keller is the top prospect in the system, Pirates fans will hope for top of the rotation results.
Keller missed most of the 2021 season with a ruptured finger tendon. The game is very specific here, but this is just a reminder of the risks of pitching prospects. If Keller gets to the 2025 season with 30+ starts in four of the next five years, it will be a good result.
Keller saw a slight dip from his pitches after the injury, but nothing extreme. His control has been an issue at times, but improved to 50 control prior to the 2024 season.
In real life, and in present day, Keller has had some issues with control in the upper levels. His control was one of his best assets in the lower levels, but he saw his walk rate increase in 2018 and 2019. He had better control results in 2019, similar to his 2024 numbers. Keller finished strong in the majors in 2019, with a 41:6 K/BB ratio in 26.2 innings over his last six starts.
He made some big adjustments to his pitch usage and selection in 2019. He added a new slider that looked like a plus offering, and used the breaking pitches more often, at the expense of the fastball. OOTP has Keller with a 70 fastball and 70 curveball in the 2025 season. His slider is graded a 55, which is great for a third pitch. I could see the actual pitch grading higher if the real-life 2019 results were legit.
Keller also has a changeup that grades as a 40 in the year 2025. That’s similar to where his changeup is now, with an upside of a 50 grade. I don’t see him reaching that, unless he puts a lot of work in on his changeup. I don’t see him needing that work, as long as the slider is a plus offering.
There’s also the fact that the Pirates might have better results in the future under new pitching coach Oscar Marin, and the new pitching philosophy that new General Manager Ben Cherington will bring to the organization. Keller’s simulated results remind me of what happened with Gerrit Cole: Good results, but not close to his perceived potential. I’m not sure how much the simulation factored in the Pirates’ history here, or even Keller’s poor upper level control in the minors.
I think this is a pretty conservative projection for Keller, and one that he could beat. He’s got a 4.02 ERA on his career entering the 2025 season, largely due to the impact of the simulated injury. He’s coming off the best year of his career, with a 3.5 WAR and a 3.22 ERA. Even that is something I think Keller can beat, and is a range I think he can be in consistently through his career.
This is all based on the idea that Keller’s slider will be a plus offering, his control will continue to show improvements, and he’ll benefit from a new pitching philosophy in Pittsburgh.
2025 Player Results on This Day
Players Still With the Pirates
Mitch Keller: 4.1 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 85/53
Steven Brault: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 21/13
Sammy Siani: 1-for-4, BB, SB
Liover Peguero: 1-for-4, 2B
Bryan Reynolds: 1-for-4, 2B
Ke’Bryan Hayes: 0-for-3, BB, 2 K
Travis Swaggerty: SB (as pinch runner)
Adam Frazier: 0-for-3, BB
Dylan Busby: BB (as pinch hitter)
Players No Longer With the Pirates
Will Craig: 1-for-4, 2B, BB (Came against Keller)
Feel free to ask about any other player in the comments. If it’s not a quick update, I’ll add the player into the schedule for a future 2025 article.