The crafty (“crafty” is what you call a soft-tossing pitcher how manages to befuddle a team with his guile... guys who don’t throw hard and get hit around are called “soft-tossers,” just FYI) left-hander went six innings, and gave up three hits on three walks and eight strikeouts. He now has a 3.35 ERA this season, which would easily be the best on the Phillies staff, including Aaron Nola (3.70).
Keuchel has also been very good in his two starts against the Phils this season. In 13 innings he’s giving up three runs with five walks, 11 strikeouts and a 2.08 ERA. After the game, he was asked about pitching against Philadelphia, given how they chose not to sign him as a free agent this off-season, spring or early summer.
It’s fair to wonder if general manager Matt Klentak regrets his decision not only not to sign him, but to seemingly be completely disinterested in him at all.
To be fair, I didn’t want him in the off-season either, primarily because I thought there were better options. I would have signed Patrick Corbin to a six-year deal. I would have signed Wade Miley, Charlie Morton, and J.A. Happ. I would not have given the multi-year deal he was seeking, especially at the cost of a draft pick.
But the Phillies didn’t land any of those guys, and three of them (all except for Happ) have been outstanding this year. All would have been drastic upgrades for this rotation. However, Klentak chose to stand pat and go with what they had, hoping that they could make an addition at midseason if any of the starters faltered.
When that happened, when the starters did falter and it became apparent Keuchel was only going to cost a team one year deal and around $11 million, the Phillies apparently stuck to the decision they had made on Keuchel in the off-season and chose not to pursue him.
It would be one thing if the Phils sent a representative to watch Keuchel and came away unimpressed. That would at least show they made an effort. But once the draft pick compensation period ended, how were the Phillies not in on a one-year deal for Keuchel? After all, they signed/traded for two other left-handed starters, Jason Vargas and Drew Smyly, neither of whom miss many bats. Did they really dislike Keuchel that much?
It’s a decision that apparently didn’t make much sense to Keuchel and, in the wake of his solid 2019 season, appears to be a huge missed opportunity for the Phils.
On Episode 318 of Hittin’ Season, I delve into this further and how the absence of Keuchel left Kapler with fewer choices in the starting rotation. I’m also joined by MLB Network Radio’s Mike Ferrin to talk about the NL Wild Card race and the widening gap between the Phillies and the Nationals and Braves. Subscribe!