Technology helps Cedar Rapids pitcher Mitch Keller with the Pittsburgh Pirates

Former Cedar Rapids presenter Xavier and Pittsburgh starter Mitch Keller, who worked off the hill against the Tampa Bay Race last week, made a rare adjustment during the season in his serve / (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON – Trying to make big adjustments during the season is not easy, even for Premier League players.

This is something that the Cedar Rapids-born and Xavier’s Mitch Keller High School product is now dealing with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

A right-handed starter, Keller changed the grip of some of his pitches – something in which technology played a role.

“We just noticed that my fast four-stitch ball is hitting, be it in this place or whatever,” said Keller, 26, standing next to his locker at the spacious Pittsburgh club before Monday’s game in Washington. “We just had to make a new adjustment there by adding a new fast ball so that it moves a little more and keeps the attackers out of balance. I think that really helped a lot.

“Adding new ground during the season is kind of stressful … and it’s not something you want to do, but the game will tell you what to do. I think I did pretty well with the correction and I’m just ready to move on. “

Keller (2-5, 4.77 ERA) is scheduled to play Wednesday afternoon as the Pirates complete a series of three games on their annual trip to the nation’s capital to face the national team.

His previous start came on Friday with a loss in Tampa Bay.

“As he throws the takeover, he will give up baseball. So I really can’t blame him for that, “Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton told reporters in Florida after Friday’s game. “He kept fighting and gave us five. … He did a good job recovering from that difficult inning. ”

“There’s definitely room for improvement,” Keller said of his start in Tampa Bay as he conceded three runs in five innings. “For starters, you want to go as deep as you can.

He will face a Washington squad that includes hot Josh Bell, a former Pittsburgh first baseman; Nelson Cruz, veteran DH; and right-winger Juan Soto, the phenomenon that fights runners in this year’s standings.

So how did Keller decide to make some changes?

“It was kind of weird; it all happened on the same day, “he said in an interview with Pittsburgh coaches. “I came to them and told them, ‘What do you think about throwing the paddle?’ They were like, we were going to come to you (with the same idea). It’s funny how it all turned out “after a trip to Cincinnati on May 7, when he allowed five runs in 4.1 innings.

As he noted, the game – or the attackers – will tell the pitcher if changes need to be made.

“Just looking at the statistics for four-stitch fast balls, he got a lot more punches than my other games, so we had to make a change,” said Keller, selected in the second round of Xavier by the Pirates in 2014. “Technology helped me develop these suggestions, so it’s really a blessing. “

He has embraced technology in the game.

“I didn’t know much about it until it started popping up more and more,” he said. “It simply came to my notice then. This is not part of the game – this is a game that is great. Maybe sometimes you wish it wasn’t, but that’s what it is. ”

Keller said he could not add much volume to his side sessions between starts as the pitchers were closely monitored.

“It’s a difficult thing,” he said. “You have to manage this load; you have to be really good with your quality work. ”

Tyler Bead, an aide to the pirates, said he had a lot to do with Keller. Both were selected by a high draft who appeared as starters from the minors.

“We’re trying to encourage each other,” said Bead, who plays at Vanderbilt College.

Keller made his Premier League debut with the Pirates in 2019. Last year he was 5-11 with an ERA of 6.17 in 23 starts.

After making changes last month, Keller will make his ninth start from this transition when he takes the mound here on Wednesday.

“I felt pretty good at the beginning of the year, then I had a few innings where things didn’t go my way or I left a few balls in the middle of the plate,” he said. “Then I started with new swallow handles and sliders and it’s been working well for me for the last month or so.

“I feel healthy and I feel really good.”

Comments: David Driver is a freelance writer in Maryland and can be found at www.daytondavid.com and @DaytonVaDriver.

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