First Pitch: Believing in Mitch Keller

I’m going to always believe that Mitch Keller has figured it out after a start like last night.

I can’t tell if “believe” or “hope” is the right word to use.

The word “hope” probably fits in a more objective way.

This wasn’t the best start we’ve seen from Keller. He went five shutout innings, striking out six and walking on, with six hits.

This wasn’t one of three outings this year where Keller went 5+ shutout frames, and there have been three other starts with five innings and two or fewer earned runs.

None of those other starts came back-to-back, and the overall results this year have yielded a lot of bad outings that would dash any hope of Keller’s future.

That said, an outing like last night doesn’t just give me hope for Keller.

That type of outing is always going to make me believe that things have clicked for him.

Or, at least it’s a reminder that they could, at any time.

This pitch in particular stood out.

I’ve seen that pitch before.

Keller dominated the lower levels with his fastball, specifically with pinpoint command on the edges of the plate. His fastball on the outside edge was as effective in A-ball as it was in the strikeout above.

That went away when he reached the upper levels and the majors. But, not completely.

We’ve seen signs of what Keller can be, with last night’s start being the most recent sign. A fastball that can be thrown for strikes, and that can generate swings and misses, even when he’s not hitting his spots. A slider that can generate some swings and misses. A pitcher that can shut down a contender.

However, Keller won’t be considered the pitcher from last night’s start until he puts up those performances on a more consistent basis.

Looking at his track record this year can remove hope for Keller figuring it all out.

I still believe.

Daily Links

**Scouting the System: Breaking Down Matt Fraizer’s Swing

**Prospect Watch: Max Kranick with a Strong Start; Oneil Cruz Returns with a Bang

**Vukovcan: Too Soon For Pirates To Give Up On Mitch Keller

**Demilio: Making Sense of the Pirates’ Payroll

**Keller Looks Stellar as Pirates Snap Five-Game Skid

**Is MLB’s Bargaining Proposal a Step Toward Avoiding a Work Stoppage?

**Game Recap: Keller Has a Welcome Start as the Pirates Shut Out St. Louis

**This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: August 20th, Hall of Famer Al Lopez, Plus Two Trades of Note

**Card of the Day: M116 Sporting Life Bobby Byrne

Song of the Day

First Pitch