When the Cincinnati Reds traded Mike Leake to the San Francisco Giants it was Keury Mella that was thought of as the main part coming back to Cincinnati in that deal. However, Adam Duvall wound up becoming an All-Star and having two different 30-homer seasons for the Reds. Mella was still working his way up through the Minor Leagues during that time. He made his Major League debut late in September of 2017. He pitched in two games before the season was over.
When the season began in 2018 for Keury Mella it was back in Pensacola. That’s the same place he finished his minor league season the year before. Things got out to a nice start for the right handed pitcher in April. He allowed one earned in his first start of the season, covering 5.0 innings. The next time out he tossed 6.0 shutout innings without a walk. In the next two starts he allowed two earned runs over 9.0 innings. On April 27th he put together his best start of the month. He threw 7.0 shutout frames with nine strikeouts against Jacksonville. In his five April starts he posted a 1.00 ERA across 27.0 innings with just five walks and he struck out 25 batters.
The first start of May carried the April vibe as Keury Mella threw 5.0 innings with only an unearned run against him, a walk and he struck out seven batters. On the 8th he would have his first struggle of the season, allowing five runs – more than he had allowed all season through six starts, and gave up his first two home runs of the year. The then 24-year-old would rebound by giving up just two earned runs in 7.0 innings the next time out. But the struggles returned for the next three starts where he allowed 10 combined runs in just 12.0 innings with 11 walks and four hit batters as he battled his control. After a stellar April, May was quite the opposite. The right hander made six starts with a 5.10 ERA in 30.0 innings where he walked 14 batters with 31 strikeouts.
June saw some carry over from May as Keury Mella allowed four earned runs in 3.2 innings on the 5th. He would settle back in after that, though. On the 10th he gave up just one run over 7.0 innings with two walks and eight strikeouts. On the 15th he threw 5.0 hitless innings against Mobile. After the All-Star break he put together a quality start against Jackson – giving up three runs in 6.0 innings to wrap up the month. He would complete June with a 3.32 ERA in 21.2 innings where he allowed just 14 hits, one home run, 10 walks, and he struck out 25 batters.
July 3rd would wind up the final start that Keury Mella made in Double-A. He allowed one earned run in 6.1 innings with six strikeouts. The next time he took the mound he found himself in Triple-A with the Louisville Bats. When he took the mound against Toledo he was on his game, being charged with an unearned run over 5.0 innings in his debut. The next time out wasn’t as good, though. Mella walked more batters than he struck out while giving up five earned runs in 4.0 innings. On the 22nd of July he would rebound with 8.0 innings of 1-run baseball against Syracuse. On July 27th he was called up to Cincinnati. He wouldn’t pitch during the final few days of the month. He finished the month with a 2.70 ERA in 23.1 innings with one home run allowed, eight walks, and he struck out 16 hitters.
On August 2nd Keury Mella would make his 2018 debut with the Reds. He pitched 4.1 innings of relief against the Nationals and allow just one earned run. He walked the tightrope as he walked four batters, but came out relatively unscathed. Four days later he allowed a run in 2.0 innings against the Mets where he walked no one and struck out two hitters. The next two appearances were struggles as he allowed seven earned in 3.0 innings. He was optioned back to Triple-A on the 13th. On August 18th he would allow one run in 4.0 innings against Charlotte. Six days later he threw 2.0 shutout innings, but he injured his oblique warming up prior to the 3rd inning. That was the last time he pitched during the year.
For all 2018 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).
Keury Mella Scouting Report
Fastball | Keury Mella found some of his old velocity again in 2018 as he began throwing in the 93-96 MPH range once again. At his best he touched 99 this season.
Slider | The pitch can be an above-average offering at times, working in the 78-82 MPH. The pitch is inconsistent, though. At times it’s a bit more of a cutter than a slider.
Change Up | Like the slider, it could be more consistent, but can flash itself as an above-average pitch.
When it comes to raw stuff, Keury Mella’s got what it takes to be a big league starter. But he turned 25 late in the season and is still battling consistency with that stuff. It’s long been discussed that he probably winds up in the bullpen where his fastball and slider could play up at the back end of the bullpen. That certainly could be what the next season could hold.
The uptick in his velocity to where it was a few years ago was good to see. During the 2017 season he was more often than not throwing 92-94 MPH. Having that jump up a few ticks really helped him miss more bats throughout the year. The secondary stuff did get a little more consistent, too. There is still work that needs to be done there. A move to the bullpen could accelerate that some as he would focus more on one of his two secondary offerings.
While there’s still a chance that he remains a starter, and he may spend time next year doing just that in the Minor Leagues, most people still think he’s destined for the bullpen. With how the future bullpens are envisioned, he may fit the mold as a guy who could potentially go multiple innings to face the lineup a full time through before handing the game off to the next guy.
Interesting Stat on Keury Mella
He hit more batters in May, 5, than he did the rest of the year combined, 4.