Rest will be in short supply for the Pittsburgh Pirates and visiting Detroit Tigers when they close a two-game series on Wednesday.
The early-afternoon game will start not much more than 12 hours after the Tigers won 5-3 on Tuesday in a rain-delayed contest.
Detroit ended a three-game losing streak and cooled the Pirates, who had won five of six and had allowed a total of one run in their previous two games.
In the series finale, Detroit right-hander Alex Faedo (1-2, 3.09 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh right-hander Mitch Keller (2-5, 5.77).
Detroit originally was set to go with Tarik Skubal on Tuesday but bumped him back to Wednesday when it appeared inclement weather would interrupt Tuesday’s game. Then the storm arrived in time to delay the start for two-plus hours rather than cause an in-game stoppage, so Skubal was reinstated and pitched seven strong innings.
Faedo would have had his start pushed back to Friday with an off day Thursday for the Tigers if Skubal had not pitched Tuesday. Now, barring more unexpected moves, Faedo will start Wednesday.
He made his major league debut May 4 against the Pirates, when he gave up two runs and eight hits in five innings with one walk and one strikeout during a no-decision.
Faedo is coming off a no-decision against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday, when he gave up two runs and five hits in five innings with five strikeouts and two walks.
“His effort was tremendous, (but) his execution was below what we’ve seen,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “But if five innings and two runs is less than his best, that’s pretty good.”
Keller, following two relief appearances in what could be a make-or-break season for the 26-year-old, had a solid start May 31 in Los Angeles. Keller limited the Dodgers to two runs on two hits and five walks with five strikeouts in five innings. He earned his first win as a starter, improving to 1-5 with a 6.21 ERA in that role.
Something to watch for Wednesday is Keller’s use of his new pitch, a sinker. He said he threw it once May 18, but the pitch plunked the Chicago Cubs’ Willson Contreras. Against Los Angeles, he worked it in more.
“It was something we’ve toyed with, Mitch talked about, he and Oscar (Marin, the pitching coach) started to talk about and we’ve been playing with in the bullpen,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “He unveiled it, and it looked to be a really efficient pitch.”
Keller acknowledged that the sinker remains a work in progress.
“I still don’t feel my command on it is really good,” Keller said. “A few of those pitches I was trying to go middle in and they were backdoor called strike threes. It still isn’t where I want it to be, but I do feel comfortable where I have more leeway with the pitch.
“If I do leave it in the middle of the zone or in the zone, it has enough movement where it’s going to keep the batters off balance.”
In his career, Keller is 0-1 with a 4.80 ERA in three starts against the Tigers.
–Field Level Media