There are just as many reasons the San Diego Padres should not sign Dallas Keuchel.
Groundballs, weak contact, innings-eater, and ability to strand runners on base are all big positives towards signing Dallas Keuchel, but does he make sense for the San Diego Padres?
He turns 31 on New Year’s Day and would be joining a Padres team that won’t be contending in 2019 and hopes to be only entering their “contending window” in 2020. MLBTradeRumors projects a four-year/$82 million deal for Keuchel this winter. Represented by Scott Boras, Keuchel is the top name left on the market and has been connected to many teams who have the means to win a bidding war. Also, word on the street is that Keuchel is seeking a “five or six-year deal.” Wow.
Keuchel utilizes multiple pitches and lives on the edge of the strike zone, however, his swing and miss rate took a massive dip in 2018. He posted the lowest strikeout percentage since his rookie season of 2012, sitting down 17.5% of hitter via the strikeout. He sat between 20.5% and 23.7% in each of his last three seasons. A 2.64 K-BB rate ranked Keuchel in the bottom half of qualified starting pitchers.
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Opponents made contact against 82% of Keuchel’s pitches and swung and missed on just 8% strikes, again, the lowest mark since his rookie season (52nd among 56 pitchers in MLB). Overall, Keuchel produced a 19.8% whiff rate, well below the 2018 league average for swings and misses.
There’s also his lack of velocity. Among 56 qualified starting pitchers in baseball last season, Keuchel’s average fastball velo of 89.3 mph ranked 54th, ahead of only Mike Leake and Kyle Hendricks. He won’t start throwing harder as he gets older and what happens if his command starts to slip, even just a little bit? Could be a recipe for disaster.
The odds of the San Diego Padres signing Dallas Keuchel seem low, but if he were to sign with the Padres, we would get an immediate idea of how well Luis Urias can handle the shortstop position. The bigger problem is third base. How confident are you in having Keuchel, an extreme groundball, pitch-to-contact pitcher, on the mound with a rookie at shortstop and (potentially) Wil Myers at third base?
Last point here. Keuchel is a left-handed pitcher that would join the likes of Joey Lucchesi, Eric Lauer, Robbie Erlin, Matt Strahm, and Richard, all of whom will be either in the rotation or right in the thick of of the competition for a rotation spot.
What’s the verdict, Padres fans? Is Dallas Keuchel the front-line starter you want to the Padres to go after?