From the ugly duckling to the swan… .
The Pittsburgh Pirates’ ace this year is undisputed right-hander Mitch Keller, 27.
According to MLB.COM today (15th), Keller started 9 games this season and recorded 5 wins, 1 loss with an ERA of 2.38 and 69 strikeouts in 56.2 innings. In his 9 games, he had a quality start 7 times and scored no runs in 2 consecutive games.
In today’s away game against the Baltimore Orioles, he threw 93 pitches in 7 innings, giving up 4 hits and striking out 13, leading the team to escape from 4 consecutive losses. His 13 strikeouts is the most in his personal career.
Keller is playing the perfect role as the ‘loss streak stopper’, which is also the fate of the ace. On the 9th, the shutout against the Colorado Rockies saved the team from a 7-game losing streak, and today it also rescued it from a 4-game losing streak.
In fact, Keller has long been expected by the club and fans, but he has failed to live up to them. Keller, who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second round with the overall pick of 64 in the 2014 draft, quickly emerged as the team’s No. 1 prospect in the 2018 MLB pipeline. He soared up to 16th overall in the major leagues and was spotlighted as a future ace.
He made his MLB debut in 2019, but he suffered a disastrous 7.13 ERA in 48 innings. He had a fastball with an average speed of 95.4 miles (153.5 km/h) and caught a lot of strikeouts, but his pitching was so unstable that his walks per 9 innings (BB/9) reached 3.
The control has not been easily improved. In 2020, which was a shortened season, the ERA was lowered to 2.91 ERA in 21.2 innings, but the command was so bad that the BB/9 reached 7.48. In 2021, he broke 100 innings for the first time in 23 games or starts, but his shortcomings showed little improvement, with an ERA of 6.17 and a BB/9 of 4.38.
Mitch Keller being baptized. Photo = AP Yonhap News
Last year, when expectations of himself were gradually lowered, Keller succeeded in rebounding. He pitched 159 innings in 29 starts, posting a 3.91 ERA. He also found stability by lowering his BB/9 to 3.40. And he made a perfect step-up this year with improved command to BB/9 2.22.
From last year to now, narrowing it down to just the recent 183 innings, it is confirmed that Keller has risen to the top of the MLB pitcher not only in ERA (2.95), but also in pitch velocity (top 11%) and hard hit allowance rate (top 7%).
Keller’s transformation seems to have come from equipping new pitches such as cutter, sinker, and sweeper. Keller, who had a four-seam usage rate of 56.8% until the year before last, increased the percentage of cutter (24.2%) and sinker (20.2%) to a level similar to that of four-seam (25.9%) this year. He’s increased the number of pitches he can fight hitters to six, which is leading hitters to miss swings (K/9 10.96).바카라사이트
Pittsburgh’s center hitter Brian Reynolds, who made his MLB debut in the same year as Keller, said of Keller, “Keller has evolved from the first time he first saw him and has become what he is now.” said.
Keller, who has reached his full potential 10 years after his professional debut and 5 years after entering the big leagues, is rapidly emerging as one of the National League (NL) Cy Young candidates for his season.