Dallas Keuchel had one of his best starts in recent memory for the Chicago White Sox on Monday afternoon. The veteran left-hander tossed five solid innings of two-run ball against the Detroit Tigers. Keuchel did allow seven hits and two walks but one of his hits was due to tough luck.
With a runner of first base and two outs, Keuchel induced a soft ground ball that should have gotten him out of the second inning. Instead, Luery Garcia bobbled the ball and Willie Castro beat out the throw for an infield single. The next batter, Akil Baddoo, hit an RBI single and Keuchel was charged with an earned run.
However, credit Keuchel for not losing his composure. Despite a rising pitch count and an early deficit, the 33-year-old was able to lock in and induce a Jonathan Schoop groundout to end the inning. Tony La Russa credited Keuchel for getting the outs right after not getting an out that you expect. The only other run he would allow was a solo home run in the fifth inning.
Keuchel had a good feel for his slider on the day. He is not known as a strikeout pitcher but did record two punchouts. Keuchel is a two-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner, and 2015 AL Cy Young winner. He provides the White Sox with a treasure trove of experience, especially in the playoffs.
However, Keuchel has struggled mightily this season. He has a fat 5.13 ERA and is allowing opponents to hit .286 off of him. His nine quality starts are the second-lowest of his career in which he has played a full 162 game season. This comes after he posted a 1.99 ERA with the White Sox a season ago.
Dallas Keuchel is hoping that he makes the final cut for the Chicago White Sox.
It has been so bad that Keuchel is not even guaranteed a spot in the playoff rotation. As it currently stands, he is the odd man out. Keuchel knew he had to earn a spot on the playoff roster heading into September.
Keuchel did nothing in September to inspire any confidence. He had a 5.84 ERA for the month and carried a 7.92 ERA during his final seven starts. Despite the poor numbers, Tony La Russa still has a difficult decision on his hands. You can’t completely discount Keuchel’s resume. Carlos Rodon’s health will also play a factor.
Keuchel’s path to the postseason roster could be a long reliever. With the top four starters healthy, there is no shot he cracks the rotation. However, the White Sox are monitoring Carlos Rodon’s nagging shoulder soreness. His final start of the regular season on Wednesday will play a big part in determining how much he can give the White Sox in the postseason.
Tony La Russa said that the White Sox will take whatever they can get out of Carlos Rodon this postseason, even if that is three innings a start. If that is the case, someone will have to bridge the gap between the starter and the back of the bullpen. The only other reliable long reliever option right now is Reynaldo Lopez. With leases being shorter in the postseason, two long relievers wouldn’t hurt.
As bad as Keuchel has been, most fans would take his services in October over Mike Wright Jr. There may be a path for Keuchel to crack the playoff roster yet. We will have to wait a week for definitive answers.