With the Chicago White Sox rolling and looking forward to a much easier stretch on paper to close out the regular season, one question looms large in the starting rotation. What do you do with Dallas Keuchel?
Keuchel, who last year posted one of his best seasons with a 1.99 ERA over 63 innings pitched in the shortened 2020 pandemic season, has now struggled to the point that he has nearly pitched himself out of the rotation. In the last 8 starts, Keuchel has allowed an abysmal 33 earned runs and has managed to notch only one quality start in that time. He has also allowed 25 hits in his last 9 innings pitched.
With the postseason right around the corner, it begs the question. Clearly, it wouldn’t take rocket science to know Keuchel isn’t playing at playoff-caliber right now. Dylan Cease, who has been lighting it up, has become more than deserving for the fourth spot in the starting rotation come October. The bigger question is, with Keuchel struggling as bad as he is, how can you justify letting him take up a roster spot at all?
For one, you can’t just DFA Keuchel. he is owed 18 million next year and the Sox have a 20 million dollar option for 2023 which can turn into a guarantee for Keuchel which is contingent upon pitching a total of 320 innings between 2021 and 2022. He is on pace for the 160 he needs this year as he sits at 139.2 on the season. Unfortunately, you can’t just cancel a contract because you feel like it, so hopefully, the Sox can utilize him in some form.
The Chicago White Sox needs more from Dallas Keuchel or he will be out.
The former Cy Young award winner is currently completely out of sorts, having his worst year since his rookie season with Houston in 2012. Prior to this year, Keuchel had posted an above-average ERA in four straight seasons. It’s not like he’s a bad pitcher, it’s just something is off mechanically with him right now.
You simply cannot afford to let a guy that’s struggling this mightily take the mound in a postseason game with so much on the line. Keuchel does have the upside of being one of the better pitchers in baseball, but as it sits, the White Sox are fighting for as much home-field advantage as possible and no longer can afford for somebody to come out and blow a winnable game. The White Sox do have mostly under .500 opponents the rest of the way and have a solid chance at a 2 seed in the AL. Tony La Russa will have a difficult decision to make coming in the next week or two.
Today, Reynaldo Lopez will get the start against the Kansas City Royals. Lopez has been solid when used thus far, posting a 1.54 in 35.0 innings. It will be interesting but my intuition tells me if Reynaldo can do anything good in this start here it may just serve as the catalyst that pushes Keuchel to the bullpen to be a used bulk reliever. One thing that is for sure is that unless Keuchel really turns it around and September rolls on, you can count him out of a playoff rotation spot.