One year after seemingly pitching his way out of Major League Baseball, Dallas Keuchel may be on his way back.
Keuchel struggled mightily in 2022. He was far removed from the form that won him the American League Cy Young Award in 2015 or All-Star trips in 2015 and 2017. The 2023, season, though, has been another story.
Keuchel signed a Minor League deal with the Minnesota Twins in June. In his first four starts with the St. Paul Saints, Keuchel posted a 0.90 ERA and 1.40 WHIP with 17 strikeouts in 20 innings. Saturday brought more of the same. Keuchel went six shutout innings against the Omaha Storm Chasers (Kansas City Royals) allowing only two hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
In tweeting about Keuchel’s start, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune noted that Keuchel recently had the option of opting out of his deal and returning to free agency. While he didn’t take that option, another strong start may lead to Keuchel using his veteran option.
Dallas Keuchel tossed six shutout innings tonight for St. Paul, lowering his ERA to 0.69 in five appearances.
He could have activated his opt out clause yesterday, but didn't. That could change in the near future.
— LaVelle E. Neal III (@LaVelleNeal) July 23, 2023
Twins blogger Ted Schwerz later clarified that “Keuchel’s opt out was extended to Aug 1.”
Keuchel’s opt out was extended to Aug 1.
— Ted (@tlschwerz) July 23, 2023
And while that buys him and the Twins more time than originally planned, a decision will still need to be made soon.
During the COVID-19-abbreviated season in 2020, Keuchel pitched well for the Chicago White Sox. While he struck out only 42 innings in 63.1 innings pitched, he had a 1.99 ERA, 1.089 WHIP. Even in his prime years, Keuchel tended to pitch more to contact, striking out fewer hitters than the other top starting pitchers in baseball.
That’s seemed to catch up with him since then, though. Over the 2021 and 2022 seasons, he had a 6.35 ERA, 1.675 WHIP and went 11-18. In 2022, he made 14 starts between stints with the White Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers.
But if he continues to show improved form at Triple-A, it seems likely that the Twins (or some other team) would be willing to give him a chance as a back-end of the rotation starter.