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Pirates Preview: Can Mitch Keller Continue Success vs. Reds?



Pittsburgh Pirates- Mitch Keller

The Pittsburgh Pirates (13-7), will play game two against the Cincinnati Reds (7-12) after they secured a narrow 4-3 victory over the Red Legs.

The Pirates used the early innings yet again to fuel their win after Connor Joe hit a three-run bomb in the first inning, and then Jack Suwinski followed with a solo shot of his own.

It is worth noting that Roansy Contreras looked much better in his last two outings, and Thursday’s start typified that. Contreras went 6.2 innings with one earned run, eight strikeouts, and two walks.

First pitch at PNC Park is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. You can watch all of the action on AT&T Sportsnet, or listen to the game on the Pirates radio network, 93.7 The Fan


The weather in Pittsburgh Friday evening will have cloudy skies with a temperature right around 78 degrees at first pitch. Expect 7-8 mph winds blowing west throughout the game.

The Pirates will send out RHP Mitch Keller (1-0, 3.80 ERA)

Keller is finding his groove early in the season.

In his first three starts, Keller has gone at least six innings and hasn’t given up more than three earned runs in each of those three starts.

In his last start on April 16, Keller faced the St. Louis Cardinals, where he pitched six innings with three earned runs, seven hits, two walks, and struck out just three.

The one thing that killed Keller in his last start was a lack of swing-and-miss stuff, registering only eight. The good news is, he limited hard contact on both his four-seam (85.7 mph average EV) and his cutter (84.2 mph average EV).

If Keller can gain his swing-and-miss stuff Friday night, he should have no problems against the Reds.

Keller has faced the Reds 12 times (12 starts) and holds a 1-4 record with an ERA of 6.88. Half of those starts came from PNC Park.

The Reds will send out RHP Graham Ashcraft (2-0, 1.42 ERA).

Ashcraft has been one crafty righty so far this season.

In Ashcraft’s last three starts, he has gone at least six innings and hasn’t given up more than two earned runs and three in total. One of those earned runs came on April 2 against the Pirates, where he pitched seven four-hit innings.

The former sixth-round pick throws just three pitches with a cutter (42.7%), a slider (37.6%), and a sinker (19.7%). Ashcraft’s cutter averages around 96 mph, and he loves throwing it against lefties.

On 27 total swings against Ashcraft’s cutter on April 2 against the Pirates, ten balls were put in play, and all ten averaged an exit velocity of 88.1; that’s no bueno.

Ashcraft has now faced the Pirates twice and holds a 1-0 record with an ERA of 2.63 in 13.1 innings pitched.

Interesting Batting Match Ups

Reds Hitters

  • Jake Fraley: 3-5 with one walk against Keller
  • Jonathan India: 4-9 with a double and five walks against Keller
  •  T.J. Friedl: 1-11 against Keller
  • Tyler Stephenson: 0-6 with four Ks against Keller

Pirates Hitters

  • Connor Joe: 2-3 against Ashcraft
  • Andrew McCutchen: 2-4 with two doubles and a walk


  • The Pirates are now 13-7; the last time they had this good of a record through the first 20 games was back in 2002 when the Pirates were 13-7 as well.
  • Pirates starters have now gone ten straight quality starts, with Contreras making it through 6.2 Thursday. The last time the Pirates did this was June 7-19, 2015, when the staff did it for 12 straight games.
  • The Pirates now have 27 total homers as a team which places them tied for third in the National League and tied for fourth overall. The other National League teams are the Atlanta Braves (27), San Fransisco Giants (30), and the Los Angeles Dodgers (35).


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