The 25-year-old has been searching for it all spring, with little progress to show for all the work he was putting in on the side. The search came to an end on Saturday night against Chicago. Working effectively up in the strike zone, Keller threw five efficient innings as the Pirates used an early burst to chase Zach Davies in an 8-2 win over the Cubs.
Pirates prospect shines in victory | News, Sports, Jobs Keller (1-1) bounced back from a rocky 2021 debut by allowing one run on five hits with seven strikeouts and just one walk.
Keller’s fastball can touch the high 90s. Locating it effectively, however, is another matter. He walked batters in 11 1/3 innings in spring training and issued four free passes in three innings in a loss to the Cubs last weekend. “Just got to put a lot of work in and just get confidence through little things, like throwing program, bullpens, whatever it may be to just find that confidence and have it translate over into the game,” Keller said. “I was super confident out there tonight. I thought I did a pretty good job of not letting the first inning run get to me.”
Things went far better in his second go-round with Chicago. At one point he retired nine of 10 batters and threw 57 of his 80 pitches for strikes, a significant step in the right direction after he threw just 42 of 77 pitches for strikes while laboring through three innings against Chicago last Sunday. “I mean, had a rough spring, rough first outing,” Keller said. “So it felt really good to just kind of have a good one out there. Just all the hard work I put in just kind of finally paid off tonight and really excited to keep going after this one.”
Colin Moran, Bryan Reynolds and Jacob Stallings all drove in two runs during Pittsburgh’s seven-run outburst in the second against Davies (1-1). Phil Evans, with his brother Michael in the stands for the first time since Evans broke into the majors in 2017, added his team-high third home run. Davies, acquired from San Diego in the trade that sent Yu Darvish to the Padres, gave up seven runs in just 1 2/3 innings, the shortest start of his seven-year career.
Javy Baez had two of Chicago’s eight hits. Kris Bryant collected an RBI double in the first for the Cubs and Joc Pederson added an RBI single late but Chicago mustered little else against Keller and three relievers. DAVIES STRUGGLES
REMEMBERING COYNE DAVIES STRUGGLES
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