PITTSBURGH, PA – With the Braves coming off a tough series in Pittsburgh, Alex Anthopoulos wasted no time bolstering the starting staff on Thursday night, coming to terms with free agent southpaw Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel, the 2015 Cy Young Award winner, remained unsigned days after the draft pick compensation went out the window. But on Thursday evening, the 31 year old lefty found a new home in Atlanta. While he was one of the top names on the free agent board for the last eight months, recently, it was revealed Keuchel would be ok with signing a one-year deal.
Keuchel provides veteran stability to a starting staff that has had its fair share of moving parts of the seasons’ first couple months. Coming into 2019, Atlanta gave the ball to Julio Teheran, who made his sixth consecutive Opening Day start. Tehran was followed by a couple of youngsters, as both Bryse Wilson and Kyle Wright made the roster and started the first series in Philadelphia. Beyond Wilson and Wright, Sean Newcomb and Max Fried rounded out the starting staff. But, Newcomb found himself demoted a couple weeks later, as walks continued to be his Achilles heel.
Here we are, over a third of the way through the regular season and the Braves looking at just a two game deficit in the National League East. While Keuchel won’t be an immediate fix to the rotation, he figures to be on the fast track to Atlanta, as he’s been throwing simulated games throughout the last couple months to stay ready for this opportunity. It remains to be seen how long he will need until he’s ready to start a Big League game, but by all indications, he doesn’t seem to be far away.
So, what’s the biggest thing Keuchel brings to his new team? Well, first a foremost, a Cy Young Award in 2015, a season that saw him go 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA over 232 innings pitched. Secondly, a veteran leader that has won a World Series title, and has made ten Postseason appearances. To this point, the rest of the Atlanta staff has combined to make a total of three playoff starts (two from Folty in ’18; one from Teheran in ’13).
Will Keuchel be the piece that helps put Atlanta back on top in the National League East? And who is the odd man out once he’s ready? The answers to both of these remain up in the air, but one thing is certain: the Atlanta Braves got much, much better on the mound on Thursday evening.