Dallas Keuchel finished the 2018 season one game over .500. His 12-11 record with a 3.74 ERA was serviceable, especially in the American League. However, it was a far cry from his Cy Young season of 2015. Keuchel went 20-8, owning a 2.48 ERA with 216 strikeouts to beat David Price and Sonny Gray for the coveted award. He headed into the 2019 offseason as a free agent, ready to walk away from one of the best teams in baseball, the Houston Astros, and their $17.9 million dollar qualifying offer.
Keuchel spent seven seasons in Houston, where he had a very respectable 3.66 ERA over that span. Like most athletes entering free agency, he believed in himself and his value. The Cy Young winner and two-time all-star looked forward to a lucrative payday and a return to greatness. However, his wait lasted longer than expected.
None But the Braves
Everyone knows that sequels are never as good as the original; the long-awaited debut of Dallas Keuchel was no exception. The Atlanta Braves finally signed the 31-year old lefty to a one-year, $13 million deal, on June 6th- two months into the 2019 season. The wait occured because teams didn’t want to give up a pick in the MLB Draft as compensation.
The Braves were thrilled with signing the four-time Gold Glove winner. Keuchel brought a stellar postseason resume to Atlanta. His 3.31 ERA, over ten postseason appearances, was something the Atlanta Braves wanted with its young core. It looked like a perfect fit.
Keuchel finished the season 8-8. His ERA of 3.75 was almost a run better than league-average. Keuchel was a solid and dependable teammate, with a flair for making people laugh in the dugout. His composure and experience were immeasurable, and he brought a ton of energy to the clubhouse. In his 19 starts, he lasted just shy of 6 innings per outing on average. But in his two postseason starts, he could not reach the fifth inning in either outing.
A Second Look to the Future
So, where does a low-velocity, ground ball-inducing, pitch-to-contact arm like Dallas Keuchel go from here? His style of pitching isn’t exactly trending. Many teams are in favor of adding pitchers with high-velocity, spin rates, and strikeout performances to counter the new-age batters.
But Keuchel does have value to offer any pitching staff: experience, stability, and leadership. Each of these attributes are priceless. There is also something to be said about his reliability, as he averaged over 160 innings in his eight-year career and didn’t miss a start in 2019 for the Braves. Keuchel is a seasoned vet with a World Series ring. His value may not be on the monetary level of Stephen Strasburg or Gerrit Cole, but the intangibles Keuchel brings to any team are invaluable.
With, perhaps, his best years behind him; the aging veteran faces another free agency. Wherever Dallas Keuchel ends up in 2020, he will be a leader, a professional, a workhorse, a mentor, and an asset.
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