Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo briefed reporters, including Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republicthis lefty Dallas Keuchel will start Sunday’s match for the club. Keuchel is not currently on Arizona’s 40-man roster, which means a corresponding move will be needed.
Keuchel, 34, started the season with the White Sox, in the final season of the three-year contract he signed with them ahead of the 2020 campaign. His first season of the deal was brilliant, as he pitched 63 1/3 innings in the shortened season with a 1.99 ERA. However, there was reason to be skeptical of these results, with advanced metrics qualifying it less nicely, possibly due to its 0.255 BABIP and 4.7% HR/FB rate. Indeed, the pendulum swung the other way in 2021, with Keuchel’s ERA hitting 5.28. In 2022, things got even worse, as his ERA was 7.88 after eight starts when the White Sox released him.
Once Keuchel cleared the release waivers, any other team could sign him for the prorated league minimum rate, with the White Sox on the hook for the rest. The Diamondbacks stepped in and offered him a minor league contract, reuniting Keuchel with Brent Strom, who was the pitching coach with the Astros during Keuchel’s best seasons but is now with the D-Backs. This agreement was accompanied by opt-outs on June 25, July 3 and July 11. Yesterday being the first of those opt-outs, it’s possible that motivated the team to make the move, although it’s unclear whether Keuchel actually triggered his opt-out. out. Since signing that deal, Keuchel has made a pair of complex league-level starts, recording 12 innings and allowing six earned runs, 17 strikeouts and a pair of walks.
The Diamondbacks have used four primary starters this year: Zac Gallen, Madison Bumgarner, Merrill Kelly and Zach Davies. Fifth place was taken by Humberto Castellanos for most of the season until he landed on the IL in late May. Since then, the club have corrected the last place, giving the occasional departure to players like Tyler Gilbert and Luke Weaver. But now it looks like they’ll give the ball to Keuchel and see if he can reclaim a role and stabilize the back of the rotation.
Currently 32-41, the Diamondbacks are 8 1/2 games away from a playoff spot at the moment. With just over a month to go before the August 2 trade deadline, the club will likely consider selling during that time, at least as far as players with short vetting windows are concerned. Keuchel himself probably won’t attract much interest, given that he only has to settle for a minor league contract. However, it is possible that Arizona will trade another member of the rotation by then. Zach Davies has a one-year contract and heads to free agency at the end of the year. There is a mutual option for 2023, although these are almost never retained by either party. After a miserable season with the Cubs in 2021, Davies is on a strong rebound here in 2022, hitting a 3.94 ERA in 80 innings.
If the club pulls the trigger on a deal, Keuchel could potentially provide veteran innings in stride. For him personally, he will be looking to show improved results before returning to free agency at the end of the year.