Chicago White Sox: Dallas Keuchel’s effect on the team

(Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

The Chicago White Sox have had major success with Dallas Keuchel on the mound this season.

Dallas Keuchel was in the middle of doing what he has been doing for most of the 2020 Chicago White Sox season which is pitching a gem. The veteran southpaw only needed 49 pitches to cruise through five innings of shutout ball. Only two of those pitches yielded hits for the Kansas City Royals. Unfortunately, his day was cut short as he exited the game after tossing his final warmup pitch to catcher Yasmani Grandal before the sixth inning.

He looked to be in some discomfort with the culprit being deemed “lower back stiffness.” Keuchel tweaked his back after fielding a ground ball off the bat of Cam Gallagher to end the fifth inning. According to the club he is day to day but this could be an issue for the White Sox as Keuchel said this has been something he has dealt with all season.

“I’m not going to make excuses or anything like that,” Keuchel said after the game. “Just talking about it in general kind of frustrates me. It pops up every once in a while.” He also left his previous start in the fifth inning against the Minnesota Twins but the cause of that was said to be stomach discomfort.

Dallas Keuchel has been a significant part of the White Sox starting rotation on and off the field. It is imperative he stays healthy for the rest of the season because he means a ton to this ballclub. His presence has been comparable to another veteran southpaw in Chicago. When the Cubs signed Jon Lester in 2015 it signaled they were officially ready to compete. He provided championship experience and a reliable starter every fifth day. The result was the Cubs winning the World Series two years later with Lester being a big part of it.

Similarly, when the White Sox signed Dallas Keuchel this offseason amid a fleury of other moves, it signaled the rebuild was officially over on the south side. They were getting a former Cy Young award winner, a four-time Gold Glove award winner, a two-time All-Star, and a World Series Champion. Like the Cubs got with Lester, they were also getting a leader in the clubhouse.

Before ever playing a single game for his new team, he took them out to dinner at a steakhouse near their spring-training complex. He even included clubhouse attendants, trainers, equipment managers, secretaries, batboys, the entire coaching staff, front office, and all of their spouses and girlfriends. Keuchel’s mother gave a toast to the 125 guests that set the tone for the rest of the season. “Playoffs or die!”

Keuchel left with a $25,000 dollar bill and the rest of the organization left with a newfound sense of chemistry.  Later in the season when the Sox were in the midst of a big slump in August, Keuchel provided the spark. Following a 5-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers, Keuchel called a team meeting to voice his frustrations to the media about the team’s lack of effort.  He held players accountable and the team responded by winning 15 of their final 18 games that month.

He has also backed up with his talk off the field with his play on it. On the mound, Keuchel has been the ace the Sox paid for going 6-2 with a 2.19 ERA. Every time he takes the ball he has proved to be reliable and has yet to give up more than three runs in a start.

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Hopefully, back problems won’t hamper his success. If they do this could prove problematic for the White Sox. Dallas Keuchel has a positive effect on this team that would be hard to replace if another guy were taking the ball every fifth day.  He is a guy that leads by example in the clubhouse and on the mound. Even when his stuff is not good he battles, ensuring the White Sox will have a chance to win every time he toes the rubber.