Veteran lefty Dallas Keuchel, who did not sign a contract over the course of the offseason, has continued on a throwing program at his home in Arizona and garnered some level of interest from multiple clubs, Brittany Ghiorli of The Athletic reports. Keuchel’s fastball is currently clocking in the 88-91 mph range, she adds. The New York Post’s Jon Heyman reported earlier in the month that the Phillies had shown some interest in the left-hander.
Presumably, given the pronounced struggles Keuchel endured in 2021-22, the 35-year-old is viewed primarily as a depth option at this point. The former American League Cy Young winner’s velocity, strikeout rate, walk rate and home run rate all worsened in 2022, as he was tagged for 62 runs in just 60 2/3 innings between the White Sox, D-backs and Rangers. That marked the continuation of a 2021 decline that saw him pitch to a 5.28 ERA in 32 appearances (30 starts) for the White Sox.
Overall, Keuchel’s past two seasons have resulted in a grisly 6.35 ERA over the life of 222 2/3 frames. He’s never been a flamethrower, but the 90.4 mph Keuchel averaged on his sinker at his peak dropped all the way down to 87.4 mph in 2022. His strikeout rate, which sat at 23.7% during his Cy Young season, was down to 14.9% in 2022, while his once-elite walk rate landed at a career-worst 10.2%.
Keuchel had success as recently as 2020, when he pitched to a 1.99 ERA for the ChiSox through 11 starts during the pandemic-shortened season. His strikeouts and velocity were still down considerably from their peak levels that year, but he avoided hard contact at an excellent clip and induced infield pop-ups at the highest rate of his career. Even last season when allowing more than an earned run per inning, Keuchel only yielded hard contact at a slightly above-average clip overall — but the hard contact he did allow was often of the maximum-damage variety and frequently came with runners aboard.
Keuchel took a minor league deal with the D-backs after being released by the White Sox in 2022, and he took another minor league pact in Texas after Arizona released him. He’ll likely need to take another minor league deal and head to Triple-A somewhere if he’s going to break back through to the big league level. There’s minimal risk in seeing if he can maintain his current velocity over the course of a full start and perhaps rebound to some extent. A return to Cy Young form isn’t realistic, but Keuchel did toss 542 2/3 innings of 4.00 ERA ball from 2018-21.