The 2017 season got out to a solid, but unspectacular start for Keury Mella. The Cincinnati Reds sent the right handed pitcher to Double-A Pensacola to begin his year. In his first start he allowed three runs in 5.0 innings with two walks and four strikeouts. It was the next time he took the mound that he would have his worst start of the year. Biloxi touched him up for five runs and he didn’t make it out of the 2nd inning. The then 23-year-old rebounded well. In his next three starts to finish out April he allowed two earned runs over 18.0 innings with 14 strikeouts and just four walks. In 24.2 innings during April he posted a 3.65 ERA with six walks and 20 strikeouts.
The strong finish in April didn’t carry into May. Keury Mella struggled in Chattanooga, allowing five earned in 3.2 innings with five walks. The next two starts went quite a bit better, allowing just two runs in the 11th and no runs on the 16th in a combined 11.2 innings. On the 21st things went south against Mobile for Mella, who was charted with seven runs in 3.2 innings. He would finish the month on a high note, though, with 5.1 shutout frames against Mississippi. Control was a bit of a problem during the month for the righty. He posted a 5.40 ERA in 23.1 innings with 14 walks and 19 strikeouts.
June, like May, didn’t get out to the best start. On the 3rd, Keury Mella allowed four runs in 5.0 innings with three walks and a strikeout. The next time he took the mound would be in relief. Homer Bailey made a rehab start and Mella followed with 4.0 innings of 2-run relief that included four strikeouts and a walk. He returned to the mound as a starter the next time out and allowed one hit and a walk over 5.0 shutout innings. That momentum didn’t carry forward for the Dominican native. On the 23rd he allowed five runs over 5.0 innings. He would finish the month with a shutout inning of work on the 28th as his start was cut short by a long rain delay. The month was an up-and-down one, leading to a 4.95 ERA in 20.0 innings with eight walks and 12 strikeouts.
July began with a start for Keury Mella where his defense didn’t help him out much. He was charged with four unearned runs, and one earned, in 4.0 innings with five strikeouts. The next time out he struggled some, but the issues came later. He had given up just one run through the 5th inning, but allowed three runs without recording an out in the 6th before being removed. Things improved the rest of the month from that point forward. In the following four starts he allowed just nine runs in 24.0 innings (3.38 ERA) with five walks and 17 strikeouts. After two down months, in terms of ERA, Mella posted a 3.82 ERA in 33.0 innings with eight walks and 27 strikeouts during July.
August did not start out well for Keury Mella, following a strange trend for the year. In his first two starts he allowed 10 earned runs in 8.0 innings with two walks and eight strikeouts. The right hander turned things around quickly. On the 17th he would allow two earned in 6.0 innings with three strikeouts. That was followed up with two more 6.0 inning starts with a combined 14 strikeouts and just two total earned runs. He closed out his regular season on September 3rd, allowing one run in 7.0 innings with six more strikeouts. With two hiccups to start the final stretch in the minors, over his last six starts he posted a 4.09 ERA in 33.0 innings with seven walks and 31 strikeouts.
On the 40-man roster, the Cincinnati Reds would call up Keury Mella after the playoffs ended for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. . He would make his Major League debut on September 20th against the Cardinals, throwing 2.0 innings. He would make his next, and final appearance of 2017 with the Reds ten days later, allowing a run in 2.0 innings against the Cubs.
For all 2017 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).
Keury Mella Scouting Report
Fastball | As a starter his fastball works in the 92-94 MPH range with him touching a tad higher at times. Out of the bullpen in the big leagues, he topped out just over 98 MPH.
Curveball | An above-average pitch that works in the 78-82 MPH range with good breaking action when it is at it’s best. Other times though it’s not quite as crisp and is more of an average offering.
Change Up | A third offering that lacks behind the other two offerings. It’s mostly an average pitch, but at times will show a little bit better, working in the low to mid 80’s.
The 2017 season for Keury Mella was full of ups-and-downs. Consistency wasn’t a strong point for the right hander. The second half of the season was better than the first, especially if we want to look at his control. In his first 13 starts he had 25 walks and 46 strikeouts in 62.0 innings. Neither of those rates were very good, but he did keep the ball in the park, giving up just three homers. In his final 14 starts he walked just 18 batters with 63 strikeouts in 72.0 innings. Much better rates than in the first half, but did give up 11 home runs – a big step in the opposite direction.
While Keury Mella is a starting pitcher now, his future may lie in the bullpen. While he has shown an ability to throw 130+ innings as a starter, he has struggled against lefties. Over the last two seasons he has 65 walks and just 81 strikeouts against lefties. Against right handers he’s walked just 35 and struck out 130. Toss in that we’ve seen him pick up good velocity as a reliever in limited action and he could profile as a back end of the bullpen kind of reliever.