2019 Atlanta Braves Player Review: Dallas Keuchel

Dallas Keuchel and the 2019 Atlanta Braves seemed like they would be good dancin’ partners early in free agency. The team was looking for a of quality starter to help a potential playoff team, while also not committing loads of money to someone who would overshadow the farm depth in future seasons. The player wanted to get paid, but also probably wanted to play for a contender and try to (re)build value for future contracts. Once the prospect of losing a draft pick had passed and Kevin Gausman figuratively dove off a cliff, the Braves jumped in and gave Dallas $13 million for roughly 2/3 of a season and a chance to start two playoff games.

Was He Worth It? -Regular Season Edition

Absolutely. We will get to the playoff starts in a moment, but Dallas’s raw regular season numbers were solid.

8-8, 3.75 ERA, 19 starts, 112.2 IP, 4.72 FIP, 1.367 WHIP, 2.33 K/BB, 2.0 WAR

The numbers aren’t exactly sparkling, but they don’t make you sick either. Given that most teams estimate 1 WAR to be about 8 million dollars, Dallas outperformed his contract by an okay margin. He also was a massive upgrade in the rotation over the tragedy that Gausman was, who had a -0.9 WAR with the Braves this year.

Given that he brought a veteran presence, the ability to go deep into games, and the knack to wiggle out of trouble, I would think that the Braves don’t end up winning the division nearly as handily (or at all) if Dallas hadn’t been around. He was 100% worth every penny the team paid. For a fan base that had been clamoring for the team to spend, they waited until they had the right guy and pounced. Kudos to Anthopolous for pulling the trigger.

Was He Worth It? -Post Season Edition

In short, probably? I’m not sure how to relate the starts he made compared to how I feel. Once the two Mikes – that is Mike Foltynewicz and Mike Soroka – pitched in Games 2 and 3, it made starting Dallas in Game 1 feel weird. But then Folty disintegrated in Game 5, so who knows. The team took the calculated risk of having the veteran who had done it before try and do it again, and it probably cost them a chance to win a postseason series.

Dallas did have some warning signs throughout the regular season that should have given the team pause. He allowed 16 homeruns in the regular season, which isn’t awful, but if you translate those to a full season, would have been comfortably a career high. That obviously bit him hard in October, giving up 3 long balls in the pivotal game 4. There is a strong chance that if Keuchel keeps the ball in the yard that day, the Braves win the series. I think the Braves would have been totally fine with Dallas starting 1 game in the NLDS. Keuchel definitely did not cost them the series all on his own, but he also didn’t help them win it. I think he was still the pitcher the Braves felt comfortable with given his post season experience, but I don’t know that the team would feel real great about trotting him out there again next year for two playoff games.

Will Dallas Return?

Almost certainly not, but I wouldn’t say definitely not. I would set the odds at somewhere around 2:9 that he pitches for a different team. There are a few factors going against Dallas that I think will play a role in him finding a job elsewhere.

1) He is probably (still) looking for his last multi-year contract. He didn’t get it last season, but I would guess that he will take a little less money for more years. Someone will probably give it to him, and I doubt the Braves would be willing to do much more than a contract this year with an option next year.

2) On top of the contract length, he probably is above the payroll the Braves will have for starters. The team has other holes to fill that will be expensive (3B, corner outfield, catcher to name a few), and will probably save the money for those spots.

3) The young bucks are going to need a chance to pitch in the bigs before too long. There are 3 sure things coming back in rotation, and the other two spots are going to be wide open. I think the team will probably let Julio Teheran go, and maybe find a trade or different signing to fill his spot. I can’t imagine the team will block the rest of its pitchers with Keuchel in this situation.

The main way I could see Dallas returning is if he still doesn’t get many fish to bite on the open market. In that case the Braves may decide that Dallas is better than any trade candidate or other free agent that they can afford. If that is the way it happens, it would probably be a late offseason deal, after both sides had tested the waters thoroughly. If this is the end of Dallas’ run with Atlanta, we should wish him well. He was equal parts exactly what we needed and what we could afford, something that we as fans shouldn’t take for granted. He did solid work and his icky Game 4 shouldn’t really be how he was remembered. Instead, I will chose to remember the good outings and his immense contributions to the Braves GIF game. If you missed any of those during the season, Google it and you won’t be disappointed.

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24 thoughts on “2019 Atlanta Braves Player Review: Dallas Keuchel”

  1. I was fine with the Keuchel signing when it happened but was vehemently against it prior to the season. Sacrificing a draft pick for a guy that doesn’t slot in before everyone else wasn’t worth the pick. Keuchel was fine, but if we’re being honest, his presence likely dissuaded AA to look for further SP help at the deadline.

  2. Thanks, Gunner.

    Keuchel produced as expected. Send him on his way with best wishes. Cole is wishcasting. Wheeler is a better fit than MadBum. Neither is likely.

    AA has to fit JD, an outfield bat, and a catcher into his budget. Good luck getting all that and a TOR arm. The off season will entertain, what with heightened expectations. I hope resigning JD is job one.

  3. I agree, coop, I think the money goes elsewhere in free agency. The only way I can see the team getting a TOR arm is via a trade.

  4. I do think there’s a particular arm the Braves are going to target but I’m going to wait to drop that name.

  5. I sure hope they sign Anthony Rendon instead of Josh. I love what JD did for the team, but he failed us in post-season and doesn’t hit for average and anything close to Rendon.

  6. @6 That is my ultimate boss move for AA. I’d give Rendon more or less whatever he wanted and figure out the rest later

  7. Rendon is one of the best players in baseball and I would love to have him, but nothing that Anthopoulos has ever said has given any hint that he’d be willing to hand out a $100 million contract, let alone a $200 million contract. So I’m not going to get my hopes up.

    Equally big question: what do you do about Snitker, who essentially disregarded orders to give his players rest and work Camargo and Joyce into the regular lineup (rather than only giving them starting jobs because of injury or Riley being unable to hit), given the team’s horrible performance in the NLDS and the utter failure of many of the veterans, who hadn’t gotten much rest during the season?

    You probably can’t fire him — the players still seem to love him, he’s done everything you asked in the regular season win column, and the chances are very slim that you can do better than him and very high that you’ll do worse than him.

    But what can you do, short of firing him? He ignored orders and the team faceplanted in the playoffs.

  8. @AAR

    There’s a guy I trust who thinks Snit might step down & move into the front office this offseason and the job becomes Weiss’s. The guy’s got inside info but also that his info might be old info.

    We shall

  9. Agreed about Snit…I hate his bullpen mismanagement over each season, and especially in the playoffs. Having sat through Game #5 @STP last week…here are unanswerable questions/ criticism:
    He panicked and pulled out Folty in the first inning, but their pitcher was coming to bat…he replaced righty Folty with lefty Max Fried to face a right-handed batter. Makes zero sense. If Freddie Free had executed the routine double-play, or if Ozzie had caught the ball at second, or if Brian had blocked the strike 3 wild pitch (should have been ruled a passed ball), the Braves would only be down 2-0. Then, with Max throwing well, Snit replaces him with Josh Tomlin, when Max’s at bat was scheduled for the next inning. So Snit burned a pitcher and had Tomlin bat in Game #5 because he was leading off the next inning, needed innings eaten, but if Max had stayed in to pitch one more inning, we could have pinch-hit for Fried, then bring in Tomlin…pure stupidity! Then in Game #4, in the mismanaged 8th inning, Snit takes out Tomlin in the 8th with one out, after JT had gotten 4 straight outs no problem, and brings in Shane Greene, who melts down, and we blow the series by blowing Game #4! Snit’s inconsistency and incompetence in matching up lefty-lefty and right-righty loses any credibility with these exceptions…he replaces righty Tomlin with righty Greene. Tomlin was already warm and doing great!

  10. Snit’s contract is up this year and he has a club option for 2021. My guess is the club could just decline the option. Unless the Braves make the playoffs *and* advance past the first round in 2020, I think it would be very easy for the club to decline the option.

  11. @13 – Sad indeed, maybe even more so for those of us in our 50’s.

    Just because the last 5 games were exponentially more *disappointing* than any random 5 game regular season stretch, I don’t buy that they are any more *significant*. In any random 5 game stretch there are going to people who play well and people who play poorly. I’m reluctant to ascribe any cause to that.

    If the Braves made major decisions based solely on a 5 game regular season stretch, most of us would be horrified, especially if we went 2 – 3 during the stretch.

  12. I agree with you Rusty, but the playoffs are different simply because one faces, on averages, better hitters and pitchers. The thing is, I don’t know if that makes small sample inferences better or worse.

    Speaking of small sample inferences, if the Astros want to dump Yordan Alvarez on us to replace Markakis because he’s sucked in his 22 playoff appearances, I’ll agree to take him off their hands. They can even have Markakis, who did better!

  13. Why not do the same thing this year as last? If MadBum or Wheeler get QOs, I’d think one of them would be left out in the cold. Or maybe someone else at that level. That gives us until June to see if we can cobble together a 5-man rotation. If we can’t just sign the guy out in QO-Siberia.

  14. With regards to Rendon, he will have a QO and the Braves will not sign a QO player. They have not even come close to signing a QO player since Ervin Santana.

    Give JD all the money.

  15. @17 Agreed on JD.

    If they’re going to go 200 million in on a player, I think Cole would be a bigger “get” than Rendon. I’m hoping for Cole, though I don’t envision it being especially likely with the Braves MO.

    Donaldson, Wheeler and Will Smith in Braves uniforms next season would satisfy me.

  16. It’s never a good idea to spend that many years on a pitcher, especially a power arm like Cole…has he had Tommy John yet?

  17. Yes, give JD the $. If that happens, it opens up a trade frontlining with Austin Riley. I’m cool with this.

  18. Whether they re-sign Donaldson or acquire a slugging corner outfielder, I just really, really don’t want the 2020 opening day lineup to be Riley at third and Markakis in left.

  19. I don’t buy into the “can’t hit during the playoffs ” argument. I think it’s a function of being hot or cold, health at the end of the year, matchups against certain pitchers, and luck.

  20. Thanks for posting about this one. I was on the edge because I usually don’t like celeb memoirs but this one sounds great and thought provoking. The reality is that there are a lot of us brown skinned women who grow up isolated and I am happy to read about the experience others had in similar situations.

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