With the 2022 regular season over, it is that time where we go back and take a look at the players who appeared for the Texas Rangers this past season.
Today, we look at pitcher Dallas Keuchel.
Dallas Keuchel is emblematic of the Texas Rangers’ failures in 2022. Once a very good pitcher, the 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner, who received Cy Young and MVP votes as recently as 2020, never should have been pitching for the Texas Rangers in 2022.
After a 2021 season that saw him post a 5.28 ERA in 162 innings for the Chicago White Sox, Keuchel was released by the ChiSox at the end of May, 2022, despite being under contract for $18 million for the season. A 7.88 ERA in 8 starts where you average only four innings an outing will do that to you.
Keuchel was then picked up by the Arizona Diamondbacks, who were in need of a veteran to eat some innings. His work in Arizona wasn’t any better than his work for the White Sox — four outings, 22 runs allowed over 18.2 IP. He was released by the D-Backs in late July.
Just days later, the Rangers signed Keuchel to a minor league deal and sent him to Round Rock. We said at the time that if Keuchel ever actually pitched in the big leagues for Texas in 2022, things would have gone very wrong.
Things did go very wrong.
Now, if one is feeling charitable, one can point out that in Keuchel’s four appearances for Round Rock prior to being called up, he allowed just six runs in 23.1 IP, good for a 2.31 ERA. That’s good!
That being said, he also had an 8.5 K/9 rate against a 4.2 BB/9 rate, which isn’t particularly good, and his success appeared to be largely BABIP-driven. That’s not a recipe that would seem to portend major league success.
Nevertheless, Texas tapped him for a start against Detroit in late August. Jon Gray was dealing with injuries, Cole Ragans was on the injured list with a minor issue that was really just a way to manage his innings, and the myriad of young pitchers who the Rangers had hoped would be ready to contribute in the big league rotation at some point in the 2022 season had, for the most part, not done anything to show they were ready.
Taylor Hearn was in the bullpen. Spencer Howard had lost his rotation spot. A.J. Alexy had a terrible year and had been moved to the AAA bullpen. Cole Winn was never right after being hit in the ankle by a comebacker. Glenn Otto had already been pressed into duty.
The Rangers seemed to feel, at the start of 2022, that they had pitching in the upper levels that provided them depth, would allow them to fill holes and fortify the rotation from within.
Instead, they ended up putting a washed Dallas Keuchel on the mound for two late season starts.
Keuchel was bad, as one would expect. Seven runs allowed in each of his two starts, though he pitched into the sixth in one of the outings and into the fifth in the other, so, you know, I guess hurrah for saving the bullpen, to an extent.
The Rangers lost his two starts by a combined score of 20-3. In the second one, A.J. Alexy relieved Keuchel and pitched about one-third of his total major league innings on the year, while Charlie Culberson finished the game out. Yeah, seeing Keuchel/Alexy/Culberson as the pitchers in a September box score really says a lot about the 2022 Rangers.
Looking at Keuchel’s Statcast page for the season as a whole, you see a bunch of blue. 4th percentile in xERA/xwOBA, 1st percentile in xBA, 5th percentile in K rate, 2nd percentile in fastball velocity, 7th percentile in xSLG. His sinker averaged 87.9 mph in 2022, which...yeah.
Keuchel was designated for assignment, waived and released after his second start for the Rangers. For the year as a whole, for all three major league clubs, he had a 9.20 ERA in 60.2 IP over 14 starts. You could call him Elvis Patterson, because he was toast.
And yet, the Rangers trotted him out there for a couple of starts. And the saddest part is, he was probably the best option they had at the time.