The New York Yankees currently hold first place in the AL East Division. However, much has been made of their starting rotation. And this week following the MLB first-year amateur player draft, all eyes focused on Dallas Keuchel (&Craig Kimbrel.) It was reported last night that Keuchel has come to terms with the Atlanta Braves. And Yankee fans should be happy about that signing. So for this piece, we will take a look at three of positive takeaways from this signing.
Keuchel Didn’t Sign With Tampa
It was a foregone conclusion that once the compensation draft pick was no longer attached to Dallas Keuchel, he would be pursued by many clubs. However, the surprise in said pursuit was that of the Tampa Bay Rays. Tampa Bay is directly behind the Yankees in the AL East standings. And over the past two seasons, Tampa has proven themselves to be a viable contender in the postseason hunt. The fact that Tampa (a low market club) was looking to spend “big” for Dallas Keuchel shows a level of aggressiveness we don’t often see from Tampa.
Dallas Keuchel has seemingly always pitched well against the Yankees. And having to see him multiple times a season as an in-division rival would add to the Yankees frustration. Having Dallas sign with the Atlanta Braves of the National League keeps Keuchel away from the Bronx.
Dallas Keuchel was at one point the most feared soft-tosser in the game. His groundball rate was incredible and took the sting out of every opponent’s swing. However, Keuchel is no longer that same pitcher. Since his Cy Young season of 2015, Dallas has struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness. And as of his recent showcases, it’s said that his already low velocity has dropped. Factor that drop in velo with injury concerns and that’s not a good combination for someone looking for a Major League starter job.
There have been pitchers capable of pitching with less stuff. And the fact that Dallas has never had a blistering fastball works in his advantage. But if you’re already tossing a batting practice fastball, to begin with, and you miss your location that only results in catastrophe. Diminished “stuff” doesn’t play well with the short porch in right field in Yankee Stadium.
Would Dallas Keuchel help the Yankees? The answer is most likely yes. However, the immediate follow-up question to that question would be, how long would it take him to get into game shape? A question that we’ll have to wait to have answered. At the time of this writing, it’s been reported that Jordan Montgomery is recovering nicely from Tommy John Surgery. Likewise, Luis Severino is rehabbing. And we already have James Paxton, JA Happ, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and the unofficial 2019 ace Domingo German. But we also have to consider Jonathan Loiasiga and Chance Adams into the starters pool. That is nine potential starters for five (maybe six) spots.
The Yankees, like many clubs, have also used the “Opener” strategy as well this season. So while the opener may be seen as a product of necessity right now, it will soon be seen as the most logical way to approach the game. Adding Dallas Keuchel to the list of pitching building up (Sevvy & Monty) will only complicate matters in several weeks. The Yankees could use an established starter but someone that is “plug and play” ready. Not someone that they have to build up to being ready. They already have that in spades.