The Dodgers are not off to an ideal start. Between injuries to three major starting pitchers, to bullpen woes (namely from the newly-acquired Joe Kelly), to inconsistency at the plate for everyone not named Cody Bellinger or Kike Hernandez, the team just does not look like one of the best in baseball on a game-by-game basis.
As the season moves into its second full week, many fans of the Boys in Blue are becoming weary, and are looking to the farm system and the free agent pool for answers. I feel like this is a dangerous and relatively fruitless line of thinking. Beyond a select few prospects who could replace some of the Dodgers’ irregulars (like Chris Taylor or a few lackluster bullpen arms), the starting lineup and rotation are relatively solid.
Now that the team is nearing its 20th game of the 2019 campaign, there really is not much room to add a new player, unless that player is Craig Kimbrel (whose case I’ve enumerated before). But another top free agent hurler is on the tops of many Dodger fans’ wish lists at the moment: Dallas Keuchel, the former-Cy Young Award Winner in the American League and 2017 World Series champion with the Houston Astros.
Keuchel not only would be an unnecessary add but if he were to be signed he could potentially frustrate the clubhouse dynamics that make the back-to-back National League champion Dodgers who they are as a ball club.
I am a fan of Keuchel as a player, don’t get me wrong. The 31-year-old lefty has had a sub-3 ERA in three of his last five seasons and a sub-4 ERA in four of those five seasons. He has reached or exceeded 200 innings pitched in three of his six MLB seasons and has never pitched less than 145 innings in a season since his first full season back in 2013.
Keuchel also will add postseason experience to whatever team he signs with. In his time with the Astros, Keuchel pitched in a World Series and has a 3.31 ERA in 51.2 playoff innings pitched in his career, with a 4-2 record overall.
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But despite his various accolades, Keuchel would not really fit into the current Dodger roster. Even with three injured starting pitchers, the 6’3 lefty would have to work his way through minor league spring training and simulated games to work his way into game shape before joining the team, and by then at least one of Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill would be back of the injured list.
Even without Keuchel and with these two starters out of commission, the team has a full five-man rotation, with Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling, and Julio Urias, to go along with spot starters like Brock Stewart, Dennis Santana, and Caleb Ferguson.
Adding Keuchel to this already brimming starting rotation could mean one of Maeda or Stripling being permanently pushed into the bullpen, something which may not go over well with a clubhouse seemingly in support of both of these mainstays. Beyond that, Maeda and Stripling both provide their comparable services at a far lower cost and with a potentially higher ceiling than what Keuchel promises.
The longer the season drags on before Keuchel signs, his price may deflate to a point that it may become even more enticing to add him, but hopefully teams more in need of his services hop in so that the Dodgers do not even get the chance.