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Pirates Spring Training

Mitch Keller Impresses in Rain-Shortened Game Against Phillies

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Mitch Keller took the mound in Bradenton against the Phillies for his second start of the spring on Thursday and looked impressive. The game was called after just five innings because of weather. The result was a 3-3 tie, the second draw in as many games for the Bucs.

We heard a lot about Keller’s increased velocity during the offseason and that was on full display on Thursday. Keller was consistently sitting in the 97-99 mph range throughout his three innings and even hit triple digits to end the second. Keller also featured a sharp breaking ball that froze Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto to record a strikeout. In total, Keller tossed three hitless innings, walked one and picked up a pair of punch outs.

The Pirates will without doubt be counting on Keller to take the next step and provide some stability to a rotation that is largely consisted of some question marks. The coaching staff is surely encouraged by the improved velocity and command that Keller has shown so far this spring.

Keller gave way to Roansy Contreras, who walked Jean Segura then allowed a two-run home run to Rhys Hoskins to begin his outing. He retired the next three, including a strikeout to end the inning. Mickey Moniak greeted him in the next inning with a first pitch homer. He again settled in and retired the next three in order.

Yoshi Tsutsugo drilled a homerun to right center off of Aaron Nola, giving him his first and the Pirates their Grapefruit League-leading 14th homer of the spring.

Greg Allen hit his second home run of the spring, also off Nola. Allen’s speed was on full display in the fourth when he legged out a groundball to first base. Newman scored on the play, giving the Pirates a 3-2 lead. Allen has so far put himself in good position to get penciled into the lineup starting in a corner outfield spot flanking Bryan Reynolds in center.

Speaking of Reynolds, he whacked a double off the wall, giving him his fourth hit of the spring.

The Pirates will play host to the Twins on Friday in Bradenton with a 1:05 first pitch.

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