As the 2019 season approaches, there are many notable stars who remain free agents. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado have yet to make their decisions on where they would like to play this spring, while others like Dallas Keuchel could be waiting on where Harper and Machado end up to make up their mind. So why would Keuchel’s decision be based on where two of the game’s biggest stars end up?
Well, according to Ken Rosenthal, the Phillies, White Sox, and Nationals have all been linked with both Machado and Harper, and if they don’t end up getting one of them, they will have money left over, and could focus on signing a reliable starter who can eat up 200+ innings a year like Keuchel.
But there is a specific reason why the Phillies should take the chance on Keuchel. They currently have no left-handed arms in their starting rotation. All five of their starters are righties. If Philadelphia can’t land Harper or Machado, they should definitely make Keuchel a priority.
Dallas Keuchel would be a perfect fit for the Philadelphia Phillies
Keuchel has been relatively consistent over the last few years. Despite a lack of velocity on his fastball, the 31-year old has quality off-speed stuff. He is also very good at pitching to contact. He won an AL Cy Young award in 2015 after a stellar year where he went 20 and 8 with a 2.48 ERA through 232 innings. Keuchel carries a career 3.66 ERA and when healthy, can give the Phillies a quality outing every fifth day when he keeps the ball down.
The key for him is to not try to overpower hitters, rather just throw strikes and let his defense do the work. His sinker has good movement, but averages just 88-90 mph. He relies mostly on his changeup and slider as his primary off-speed pitches, which are both above average offerings. Keuchel isn’t a big strikeout guy, but the majority of his whiffs come from his slider.
Why Philly Should Focus on Keuchel if They Don’t Land a Star
The Phillies currently have five hard-throwing right-handed pitchers in their rotation. Aaron Nola, Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, and Jake Arrieta. When you first take a look at it, there doesn’t seem to be any room for Keuchel. Well first off, he’s been an established major league starter for seven years now. Four of those five starters are young, and one could definitely make the move to the bullpen if Keuchel came to Philly. Having a lefty in their rotation will also be a plus for the Phillies. This would give them a different type of arm, instead of a hard-throwing righty every day.
Sure, Keuchel doesn’t throw mid 90’s, but he is deceptive and knows how to pitch and get ahead of hitters. The former Cy Young winner has given up just 2.6 free passes per nine innings throughout his career. This is a testament to his spectacular command and ability to throw strikes.
Keuchel May Need to Lower His Asking Price
It’s been reported that Keuchel is looking for a five to six-year deal, which the Phillies are not willing to offer. I understand that he wants to feel secure, but at 31-years old, he isn’t getting any younger. Clubs are probably also worried that his velocity will drop as he gets older, and he already barely cracks 90 mph with his heater. I think Keuchel should settle for something like a three-year deal if it’s with an organization that he can see himself with. But knowing the Phillies starting rotation situation, they should definitely be targetting Dallas Keuchel.
Adding a lefty every fifth day would be a huge plus for the club and give them a reliable starter. They also play in a big ballpark and Keuchel is prone to the home run at times. That would also be a positive for the lefty compared to pitching at Minute Maid. If the Phillies want a ground-ball pitcher who will throw strikes and get outs, then Dallas Keuchel is the answer.