Keller gave up one run in 7.1 innings for Triple-A Indianapolis on Monday, striking out six while allowing six hits and no walks. It wouldn't be surprising to see Keller receive a promotion shortly after the 10-day period following his June 18 demotion ends. His performance Monday was encouraging as he didn't issue a walk. Keller, who has relied on fastball usage for 64.3 percent of his pitches in three MLB starts, may look to vary his repertoire upon his return to the majors. His fantasy stock has likely trended lower following a 10.25 ERA with Pittsburgh, but his pedigree and minor-league success suggest he might be a good buy-low candidate.
Keller was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis on Wednesday. With Trevor Williams (side) returning from the injured list Wednesday, Keller is no longer needed in the big-league rotation. The 23-year-old prospect has struggled in a trio of starts for the Pirates this season, posting a 10.50 ERA, 2.25 WHIP and 15:6 K:BB in 12 innings. Keller owns a solid 3.10 ERA and 74:25 K:BB in 58 innings with Triple-A Indianapolis this season, so he should get another shot with the big club later this season.
Keller allowed four runs (two earned) on four hits with six strikeouts and two walks across five innings in a no-decision against the Tigers on Tuesday. He pitched much better, but the Pirates' defense really hurt Keller in this one. The Pirates made three errors in the first four innings, including two in the fourth, which led to two unearned runs. Fortunately, Pittsburgh came back to tie the game in the seventh, so Keller avoided the loss. Still, he pitched so poorly in his first two outings that he is 0-1 with a 10.50 ERA, 2.25 WHIP, .389 batting average against and 15 strikeouts in 12 innings across three starts to begin his major-league career. In all likelihood, Keller will return to the minors this week with Trevor Williams (side) and Jordan Lyles (hamstring) both expected back soon.
Keller will start at home against the Tigers on Tuesday, general manager Neal Huntington said on SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan Pittsburgh. Keller has surrendered 12 earned runs in seven innings in his first two starts, including nine first-inning runs. While Huntington confirmed Keller's Tuesday start during his Sunday radio show, he also mentioned that Trevor Williams (side) will return Wednesday and Jordan Lyles (hamstring) won't spend much more time on the injured list. As a result, Keller could face a demotion regardless of how he fares Tuesday.
Keller didn't factor into the decision in Wednesday's 8-7 extra-innings loss to Atlanta, coughing up six runs on 10 hits and two walks over three innings while striking out two. The right-hander's second big-league start of the season went even worse than his first one did, but the Bucs took Keller off the hook for a loss when they tied things up in the sixth inning. He's now saddled with a 15.43 ERA in Pittsburgh despite his 3.10 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 74:25 K:BB through 58 innings with Triple-A Indianapolis, and the 23-year-old simply doesn't look ready for prime time.