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During the dead of winter, when the sight of baseball players doing baseball things was especially rare because of the lockout, a video began circulating on social media. It depicted Mitch Keller firing in fastballs at 100-plus mph at a training facility in North Carolina, and it was enough to raise the interest of anyone who covers baseball.

When those velocities carried over to spring training, that interest blossomed into full-blown enthusiasm. After all, a former top prospect with improved velocity had to mean ... something. What wasn't clear, though, is exactly what it meant. It's not like Keller's fastball was the problem. It's that he didn't throw enough strikes and didn't offer enough to go with it. Would throwing harder make a difference?

Two starts in, the answer appeared to be no. Keller had a 9.39 ERA. He had walked five in 7 2/3 innings. His swinging-strike rate was less than 10 percent. But then came his third start Wednesday at Milwaukee:

PIT Pittsburgh • #23 • Age: 26
Wednesday at Brewers
INN
5.1
H
4
ER
1
BB
0
K
7

That's different. It's not bowl-you-over good, but it's ... good. If his first two starts were as good, we'd consider him a major success story. He had 11 swinging strikes on 75 pitches for an elite 14.7 percent rate. He threw an incredible 77.3 percent of his pitches for strikes, walking no one. Is there any reason to believe he could do it again?

Well, here's what changed: He threw his fastball, the pitch that got us so excited in the first place, 68% of the time. That's up from about 50% in his first two starts. It's a pitch with elite velocity and spin rate, a pitch that was responsible for seven of those 11 swinging strikes, a pitch that he's able to locate. I think, then, with the offseason improvements, it's fair to call it a good pitch, and throwing good pitches more is a tried-and-true recipe for success.

From the horse's mouth: "I think that's the key for me going forward, just using my fastball, because everything works off of that," Keller said after the game.  

But won't hitters learn to time it up if he throws it too much? I would say skepticism is warranted still, but if nothing else, this start shows that we still don't know the end result of Keller's velocity gains. If you're in need of pitching help and are looking to score big off the waiver wire, he's rostered in only 28 percent of leagues. Still, there are a couple other hurlers I'd look to add ahead of him.

Possible waiver wire pickups
ARI Arizona • #29 • Age: 33
Rostered
73%
Wednesday at Nationals
INN
6
H
6
ER
1
BB
1
K
5
Merrill Kelly's velocity was up at the start of the season but was back closer to normal in this one. Still, it's the improvement of his changeup, a pitch with a near 50 percent whiff rate so far, that offers reason to believe he's poised for bigger things this season. He's allowed just one earned run through three starts for an 0.59 ERA and has shown in previous years that he'll consistently work deep into games. Pick him up wherever he's still available.
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #26 • Age: 28
Rostered
69%
Wednesday vs. Braves
INN
6
H
1
ER
0
BB
3
K
3
The Dodgers played it cautiously with Tony Gonsolin his first couple times through the rotation, having him piggyback with Tyler Anderson, but now with Andrew Heaney sidelined by a shoulder injury, they no longer have that luxury. Sure enough, Gonsolin went six innings this time and looked fully capable of doing it. The strikeouts were nothing special, but the swinging-strike rate suggests he's poised for more. He got nine of his 12 swinging strikes on the slider, which he threw 41 percent of the time. If he can rely on that pitch and his splitter more, fading his fastball, good things will happen.
SD San Diego • #10 • Age: 29
Rostered
53%
2022 Stats
AVG
.256
HR
4
SB
1
AB
39
BB
8
K
8
It's still not clear to me why Jurickson Profar, a player with a long history of weak and ineffective contact, is suddenly crushing the ball, but it continued Wednesday with his fourth home run. He also stole his first base. If he can somehow sustain his current quality of contact (big if), it's the one missing ingredient to a successful offensive profile. He's an exceptional contact hitter with plus on-base skills and an optimal launch angle. Statcast actually has him with a .283 xBA, so you could argue he deserves even better than he's gotten so far.
COL Colorado • #15 • Age: 30
Rostered
52%
2022 Stats
AVG
.333
HR
0
2B
2
AB
30
BB
2
K
4
Randal Grichuk has had a weird season so far. He has yet to deliver on the most established part of his skill set, power hitting. He has no home runs. He has yet to barrel up a single ball, according to Statcast, which explains why his average exit velocity is in the toilet. Yet because he plays half his games at Coors Field now, he's succeeding just by way of BABIP. When that power stroke comes around -- and the track record says it will -- he'll be poised to do some real damage, so you can't expect him to remain so available for so long.
PHI Philadelphia • #28 • Age: 25
Rostered
33%
2022 Stats
AVG
.476
HR
1
2B
2
AB
21
BB
4
K
1
Defensive miscues, not to mention a miserable 2021, had Alec Bohm sitting more often than not at the start of this season, but suddenly, he's started three straight and four of the past five. He's doing real damage, too, going 2 for 4 with his first home run Wednesday. Skepticism is understandable after the year he just had, but his hard-hit rate was in the 90th percentile even then. It's just that he struck out way more than advertised and hit everything into the ground. As of now, his line-drive rate is through the roof, and he's struck out only once. You don't have to squint hard to see a post-hype sleeper here.
BAL Baltimore • #48 • Age: 29
Rostered
9%
2022 Stats
SV
2
INN
7
H
4
ER
2
BB
4
K
9
When manager Brandon Hyde identified Jorge Lopez as his first choice to close at the start of the year, it didn't make sense. The 29-year-old was a journeyman fifth-starter type with a career 6.04 ERA. He looked great in a five-out save Wednesday, though, striking out three without allowing a baserunner and, in fact, has not allowed a baserunner in his past three appearances, striking out seven over 4 2/ 3innings. He has seen his velocity spike in this new role, up to 99 mph, so perhaps Hyde was onto something. Lopez could still self-destruct, and it's not like the Orioles will give him regular save chances. But in some leagues, you'll take whatever you can get in that category.