Mitch Keller will be recalled from Triple-A to start tomorrow’s game against the Braves, MLB.com’s Adam Berry tweets. The Pirates also announced that they’ve recalled Dovydas Neverauskas from Triple-A Indianapolis and optioned Alex McRae in his place, giving them a fresh arm in the bullpen.
Tomorrow will be the second big league start for Keller, long lauded as one of the game’s premier pitching prospects. The 23-year-old was promoted for his MLB debut against the Reds in late May and struggled through a shaky outing that saw him yield six runs in four innings. Since that time, he’s gone back to Indy and allowed two runs on four hits and five walks with 18 strikeouts in 11 innings of work — including 12 consecutive outs recorded via strikeout in his most recent outing.
Earlier this week, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington indicated that while Keller was an option to start Wednesday, the team would also look outside the organization. The Pirates, as Huntington explained, do not want to continually shuttle Keller back and forth between the Majors and Triple-A. Rather, the organizational preference is that when Keller comes back up, he simply remains at the MLB level. That’s far from a declaration that this is a permanent call to the big leagues for Keller, but it stands to reason that he’ll have the opportunity to prove that he is worthy of an extended look. Throwing well against a tough Braves lineup on the road in their hitter-friendly park tomorrow would be one such way to make an impression.
The Pirates’ rotation has significantly underperformed so far in 2019, with Chris Archer taking a notable step back and both Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams missing extended periods on the injured list. Keller is the type of high-upside arm who could provide a boost to a Pittsburgh club that still hopes to contend despite a recent slide in the standings. Huntington has previously spoken about a desire to upgrade the team’s bullpen, and earlier this morning, it was reported that the team could look to trade Corey Dickerson given the team’s glut of productive outfielders. Suffice it to say, there are plenty of moving parts in Pittsburgh, and the next several weeks will prove pivotal in determining the team’s direction at the trade deadline.