The Minnesota Twins have reached a minor league agreement with left-handed pitcher Dallas Keuchel, according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post. Keuchel, a client of Scott Boras, has been training with Driveline Baseball and has made notable improvements in his pitching. Chris Langin, the director of pitching at Driveline, recently highlighted on Twitter that Keuchel has regained velocity on his fastball. Movement on his sinker, and refined his sweeping pitch. It is expected that Keuchel will join the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate in St. Paul, although he may require some fine-tuning at a lower-level affiliate initially.
Keuchel, now 35 years old, has experienced a difficult couple of seasons. In his last two campaigns, he struggled with a 6.35 ERA over 222 2/3 innings pitched for the Chicago White Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Texas Rangers. The 2022 season was particularly challenging, as Keuchel surrendered 62 earned runs on 94 hits and 31 walks in just 60 2/3 innings.
His fastball velocity dipped to a career-low of 87.8 mph, and his walk rate reached its highest level since his rookie season in 2012, standing at 10.2%.
Despite his recent struggles, Keuchel demonstrated strong performances in the past. In 2020, he achieved an impressive 1.99 ERA in 63 1/3 innings pitched. From 2014 to 2020, he established himself as a top-tier starting pitcher for the Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves, and Chicago White Sox. Throughout that period, Keuchel accumulated 1126 1/3 innings with a solid 3.25 ERA (3.55 FIP, 3.63 SIERA). Although his strikeout rates have typically been below average, Keuchel compensated with excellent command and one of the highest ground-ball rates in the league. He has also limited opponents to a low average exit velocity of 87.4 mph since 2015, as tracked by Statcast.
The Twins view Keuchel as a valuable depth option rather than a pitcher they will heavily rely on. With a strong rotation featuring Sonny Gray, Pablo Lopez, Joe Ryan, and Bailey Ober. Along with the anticipated return of Kenta Maeda from the injured list, the Twins have a solid top four in their rotation. Additionally, they hope Chris Paddack will complete his recovery from Tommy John surgery later in the summer. Keuchel’s presence adds to their pool of rotation options. If he performs well in Triple-A and returns to his pre-2021 form, it would be a significant boost for the Twins. However, if he continues to struggle, the team can move forward without jeopardizing their rotation depth.
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