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Pirates Preview: Mitch Keller & Company Looking For Series Sweep

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Pittsburgh Pirates- Mitch Keller

The Pittsburgh Pirates (3-2) look to secure their first series sweep of the season as they take on the Boston Red Sox in game three.

The Pirates held a very potent lineup to just one run on Tuesday night and won by a score of 4-1 when the dust settled.

Bryan Reynolds blasted his fourth home run in three games, Ji-Hwan Bae recorded his first major league home run, and Roansy Contreras pitched a very solid 5.2 innings to lead the Pirates to a fairly convincing win.

You can watch game three on AT&T Sportsnet or listen to it on the Pirates radio network, 93.7 The Fan. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m.

Weather

It’s going to be a cold and miserable day in Boston, Wednesday afternoon. Temperatures will range from 40-41 degrees with a 24% chance of rain. Winds will range from 14-17 mph and blow east.

Starters

The Pirates will send out RHP Mitch Keller for his second start of the year

Keller struggled mightily at times in the season opener on March 30 against the Cincinnati Reds, but there were some bright spots that we didn’t see last year from Keller.

Keller induced 15 swings and misses and got eight strikeouts. Now I understand he wasn’t facing murderers’ row, but those numbers are still impressive, regardless.

Keller’s cutter was on point against the Reds. Keller used his cutter 31% of the time in his 4.2 innings pitched and induced five swings and misses from it. The only other pitch to match five was his four-seam.

The most impressive thing Keller did was allow a max exit velocity of 69.7 mph on just two balls in play. If Keller can limit hard contact with his primary pitch, his five other pitches should follow.

Keller has faced the Red Sox and holds an 0-1 record with an 18.00 ERA in one start.

The Red Sox will send out fellow right-hander, Corey Kluber

Kluber got roughed up in his first start of the season for the Red Sox against the Baltimore Orioles. Cluber lasted just 3.1 innings while giving up four walks, six hits, five earned runs, and striking out four.

Kluber threw a total of 80 pitches in his outing and stuck mainly with his sinker, curveball, cutter, and changeup. There were only three instances where Kluber threw a four-seam, so, consider that pitch a non-factor.

Kluber’s sinker maxed out around 88 mph and will sit around 87 mph.

Kluber likes to keep the ball on the ground, and through one game, he failed to do that very well. Orioles hitters had a 50% flyball/home run percentage as compared to just an 18.2% ground ball rate.

Kluber has faced the Pirates twice in his career (both starts) and holds an 0-1 record with a 4.82 ERA

Interesting Batting Match Ups

The current Red Sox lineup is 3-14 against Keller.

Austin Hedges is 0-5 against Kluber, but since he’s on the IL, he will not face him.

Ji-Man Choi is 1-8 with three Ks against Kluber.

Tidbits

  • With his homer in the third inning Tuesday night, Reynolds has homered in three consecutive games for the first time in his career. The last Pirate to hit a homer in three consecutive games was Josh Bell from Aug 11-13, 2019.
  • Reynolds now joins Barry Bonds (1992) and Reggie Sanders (2003) as the only players in franchise history to homer in three of the first five games of a season.
  • Ji-Hwan Bae joins Atlanta Braves player Vaughn Grissom to be the only N.L. players to hit their first-ever homer at Fenway Park. Fenway Park opened in 1912.
  • Jose Hernandez recorded his first big league strikeout in the seventh inning. Hernandez’s strikeout victim was Christian Arroyo.

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