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Despite Recent Struggles, Keller, Pirates Not Worried



Mitch Keller, Pittsburgh Pirates

PITTSBURGH — After cruising through the first part of the season, Pittsburgh Pirates starter Mitch Keller hasn’t had quite the same success in his recent outings.

In his last two starts prior to Tuesday night’s game, Keller owned a 7.50 ERA despite being the winning pitcher in both games.

Even despite the inflated ERA, Keller still did some good things. He struck out 16 batters — eight in each game — over those two starts and only walked three.

In the Pirates’ 11-2 crushing defeat to the lowly Oakland A’s on Tuesday night, however, Keller saw the worst results he has had in a game all season.

Keller went 5.1 innings, surrendered eight hits and was tagged with five earned runs. He walked four, which was tied for the most in any one start this season, and only struck out one batter — his lowest total in his 13 starts on the year.

“I just didn’t execute. It just comes down to execution. I left too many pitches over the middle and they took advantage. Obviously, with the free passes, it was just not a good night,” Keller said.

After another disappointing outing, there isn’t much panic between him or the Pirates. Even despite his ERA ballooning from sparkling 2.44 to a much-less impressive 3.60.

“The last one against the Giants was kind of weak contact, just kind of got nipped by the hit bug a little bit. I don’t know. I don’t really put too much into that one. I’ve got to flush it and move on, regroup for the next one,” the right-hander said.

“He just didn’t pitch great tonight,” manager Derek Shelton said.

Keller this season has emerged as the ace of the Pirates’ staff and prior to this rough stretch on the mound, was among the game’s top starters in several categories.

Three starts is hardly anything to put much stock into in the grand scheme of things in a 162-game slate. Every small sample in the game of baseball has to be taken with a grain of salt.

Regardless, the Pirates need their number one starter to get over this little bump in the road before it starts to snowball.

The good news for Keller and for the Pirates is that the 27-year-old has grown as a pitcher both physically and mentally. In year’s past, it would be tough to envision Keller breaking out of funk. But he’s not the same pitcher he used to be.

Like with Keller, the Pirates will look to put this one in the rearview mirror as they go for the series win on Wednesday afternoon against Oakland.

“I don’t see a problem with us bouncing back tomorrow and getting right back after it. It’s just one of those games where we had a rough night. Just flush it and move on and win the series tomorrow, and we’ll forget about this,” said Keller.

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