White Sox could have a good addition to their starting rotation with the signing of Dallas Keuchel, a Cy Young Award winner and World Series champion.
SBNation’s Kyle Lesniewski who covers the Milwaukee Brewers for the fan site, Brew Crew Ball, wrote that there are currently three known MLB teams said to be interested in the pitching services of Dallas Keuchel:
"“According to Paul Crane, a veteran broadcaster, reporter, and play-by-play announcer with a pulse on the Braves beat in Atlanta, the Brewers are apparently one of three finalists for the services of free agent starter Dallas Keuchel. Milwaukee is reportedly competing with the Braves and Astros, but may be willing to go to three guaranteed seasons while the Astros are offering only two and an option year. What the Braves may be offering is unknown.”– Kyle Lesniewski, Brew Crew Ball (Jan 29, 2019)"
Despite the interest of the aforementioned clubs, Keuchel remains in the warm confines of his home in Houston waiting for a call from, Scott Boras, his agent as to where he’ll land this baseball season, and possibly beyond.
The White Sox should be in that mix as well because Keuchel is a stud as a starting pitcher and despite last season’s off-year for him, Chicago needs a proven and reliable left-handed ace with a terrific resume that includes four golden gloves.
Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci did a piece on Keuchel back on Dec. 10th of last year that clearly detailed the pros and cons of his ability and reasons as to why the Tulsa, Okla. native may find the free agent market a bit chilly this off-season:
"“Keuchel is the best groundball pitcher to hit the market since 30-year-old Mike Leake in 2015.”– Tom Verducci, SI (Dec 10, 2018)"
Verducci also added that since Leake inked a five-year, $80 million deal with the St Louis Cardinals, his performance on the mound has produced a 29-35 record, a 4.32 ERA, and a .313 BABIP (batting average on balls in play).
However, when you delve into his 2018 season a tad deeper, a good portion of Keuchel’s numbers are actually better than they look.
Last year, Keuchel recorded a career-best in starts (34), second highest in total innings pitched per game (6.0), and strikeouts (153), while posting a 12-11 win-loss record (.522) and a 3.74 ERA. Of his 34 starts, he received a 6.75 runs support average per game in his 12 victories. Not bad. But Astros bats were all but comatose in his 11 losses and 11 no decisions by producing a paltry 1.36 runs support average per game. Ouch!
Take for instance last season when the Astros came to Cleveland for a long weekend series with the Indians at Progressive Field. In game two of their four-game set on May 25th, a Friday night crowd over 29,000 Indians faithful reportedly witnessed Keuchel give up only two runs to their hometown club before being hastened to the bench after six innings and having tossed 103 pitches. The Astros bullpen did a tremendous job during the final trio of innings of relief in shutting down Cleveland while their bats suddenly awakened and tacked on a four-run eighth inning and a seven-run explosion in the final frame en route to an 11-2 mud stomping.
Cincinnati, OH native, and Astros relief pitcher Joe Michael Smith entered the bottom of the seventh in that same game with two outs, trailing 2-0, with Michael Brantley on first base after ripping a line drive single to center field off of Astros pitcher Will Harris, and Indians first baseman Edwin Encarnación at the plate. Five pitches and three strikes later, the side was retired. Smith had worked more of a sweat walking to the mound from the bullpen than he had wrapping-up the inning.
Courtesy of Houston’s 4-run eighth, and a stellar job by the final two Astros relievers, Chris Devenski, and Tony Sipp, for his labor, Smith got the ‘W”, while Keuchel got hung with a no decision as he watched it all unfold from one of the best seats in the house. It happens like that some days.
According to Brooks Baseball, Keuchel has five pitches in his arsenal. He throws a four-seam fastball that averages 90 mph, a cut fastball that averages 87 mph, a sinker that averages 90 mph, a slider that averages 80 mph, and a changeup that hovers around 80 mph:
"“His sinker is a real worm killer that generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, has surprisingly little armside run and has some natural sinking action.”– Brooks Baseball providing insight on a basic description of 2018 pitches thrown by Dallas Keuchel compared to other LHP’s."
Keuchel was originally signed by the Astros not long after they chose him in the seventh round of the 2009 MLB draft. After seven good seasons with Houston that included a Cy Young Award (2015), a couple of All-Star Game selections (2015, 2017), and a World Series Championship (2017), the former Arkansas Razorback has posted a lifetime 76-63 (.547) with a 3.66 ERA.
Consider the fact that 16 pitchers were selected in the 1st round of that same 2009 MLB draft. Only seven of those are still in “The Show”, and of that number, Stephen Strasburg (Nationals), Mike Minor (Rangers), Mike Leake (Mariners), and Kyle Gibson (Twins) are the only ones to date that have enjoyed some great to average success in their respective careers.
With some added offense thru a free agent signing or increased production at the plate from those already on the roster – or a welcome surprise from the farm system, combined with a bolstered bullpen (Kelvin Herrera and Randall Delgado), Keuchel would be a great addition to the ChiSox starting rotation.
The White Sox would have to be creative by thinking “inside the box” if they were to sign Keuchel. He has already turned down a qualifying offer the Astros offered this past December for one-year at $17.9 million. The Pale Hose could possibly go $80 million at three-years with a club option for a fourth year.
Tell me what you think, would Keuchel be worth a multi-year contract of $80 million or more?