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Pirates Preview: Mitch Keller Makes History as Opening Day Starter



Pittsburgh Pirates- Mitch Keller

Opening day is here, and your Pittsburgh Pirates (0-0) start a three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds (0-0). The buzz is in the air for a fresh season, fresh outlook, and fresh takes. Can the Pirates give Derek Shelton his first opening-day win as a Pirates manager?

Since Shelton took over on Nov. 27, 2019, the Pirates have been 0-3 on opening day.

  • July 27, 2020- 6-5 loss against the Milwaukee Brewers
  • April 8, 2021- 4-2 loss against the Chicago Cubs
  • April 12, 2022- 2-1 loss against the Cubs

First pitch at Great American Ball Park is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. and will be aired on AT&T Sportsnet and on the radio waves with 93.7 The Fan.


At first pitch, the weather looks calm, with a high of 60 degrees and a 0% chance of rain. Winds will range around 8 mph and blow south/southeast.


The Pirates will send out Mitch Keller (first career opening day start in the majors). 

Keller has struggled mightily at Great American Ball Park with an opposing slash line of .341/.453/.565 with an OPS of 1.018 in 22 innings pitched. Those 22 innings are the most Keller has pitched in any ballpark on the road.

With Keller having six pitches to work with, now that he’s added a cutter, one can wonder if he can now induce more chases and whiffs.

Keller ranked in the 13th percentile in chase rate and ranked in the 17th percentile in whiff rate last season. If Keller can induce more swings and misses, he might continue to move onward and upward.

The Reds will send Hunter Greene to combat Keller (first career opening day start). 

Greene has faced the Pirates twice and has kept them in check with an opposing slash line of .091/.259/.114 with an OPS of .373 in 13.1 innings pitched.

The right-hander was the starting pitcher in the game last season in which the Pirates did not record a hit, but were victorious by a score of 1-0 on May 15.

Greene has done a good job in the short amount of time he’s been in the majors, ranking in the 88th percentile in whiff rate and ranking in the 91st percentile in K%, but when he gets hit, he gets hit hard.

Greene offers a nearly triple digits fastball, slider, and changeup (mostly to lefties).

Greene’s bugaboo pitch in the early stages of his career has been his changeup, with a batting average of .364 on it last year. His fastball has given him issues, allowing 17 out of the 24 homers off him on heaters.

Interesting Batting Matchups

Jonathan India is 3-7 against Keller with four walks and one double. TJ Friedl, however, is just 1-9 against Keller.

Jack Suwinski has had strikeout issues since coming to the majors, and it’s no surprise that he is 0-5 against Greene with one walk and four strikeouts.


  • The Pirates are opening on the road for the seventh straight season
  • During N.L. openers, the Pirates have a record of 72-64
  • At 26 years and 360 days old, Keller becomes the youngest opening-day starting pitcher for the Pirates since Gerrit Cole in 2017. Cole was 26 years and 207 days old.
  • According to MLB Pipeline, the Pirates are eighth in terms of farm systems.


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