Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo informed reporters, including Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, that lefty Dallas Keuchel will start Sunday’s game for the club. Keuchel isn’t currently on Arizona’s 40-man roster, meaning a corresponding move of some kind will be required.
Keuchel, 34, began the season with the White Sox, in the final season of the three-year deal he signed with them prior to the 2020 campaign. His first season of the deal was brilliant, as he threw 63 1/3 innings in the shortened season with a 1.99 ERA. However, there were reasons to be skeptical of those results, with the advanced metrics grading him less kindly, possibly due to his .255 BABIP and 4.7% HR/FB rate. Indeed, the pendulum swung the other way in 2021, with Keuchel’s ERA shooting up to 5.28. In 2022, things got even worse, as his ERA was at 7.88 after eight starts when the White Sox released him.
Once Keuchel cleared release waivers, any other team could sign him for the prorated league minimum rate, with the White Sox on the hook for the remainder. The Diamondbacks stepped up and offered him a minor league deal, 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. That deal came with opt-outs on June 25, July 3 and July 11. With yesterday being the first of those opt-outs, it’s possible that motivated the team to make the move, though it’s not known if Keuchel indeed triggered his opt-out. Since signing that deal, Keuchel made a pair of starts at the Complex League level, logging 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. The fifth slot was taken by Humberto Castellanos for most of the season until he landed on the IL at the end of May. Since then, the club has been patching the last spot together, giving the occasional spot start to the likes of Tyler Gilbert and Luke Weaver. But it seems now they will give the ball to Keuchel and see if he can take over a role and stabilize the back end of the rotation.
Currently 32-41, the Diamondbacks are 8 1/2 games out of a playoff spot at the moment. With just over a month to go until the August 2 trade deadline, the club will likely be considering doing some selling in that time, at least when it comes to players with short windows of control. Keuchel himself isn’t likely to garner huge amounts of interest, given that he just had to settle for a minor league deal. However, it’s possible Arizona will trade another member of the rotation between now and then. Zach Davies is on a one-year contract and headed towards free agency at the end of the year. There is a mutual option for 2023, though those are almost never picked up by both sides. After a miserable season with the Cubs in 2021, Davies is having a nice bounceback here in 2022, putting up a 3.94 ERA through 80 innings.
If the club pulls the trigger on a deal, Keuchel could potentially provide some veteran innings down the stretch. For him personally, he’ll look to show some improved results before returning to free agency at the end of the year.