Blue Jays Opposing Pitcher Report: Dallas Keuchel
On Wednesday, June 27, the Blue Jays will complete their three game series against the Houston Astros. Dallas Keuchel will receive the ball for the Astros, while Marco Estrada will climb the hill for the Blue Jays.
Unlike almost every other Houston starter, Dallas Keuchel has struggled compared to his past numbers. The left-hander has not been the same Cy Young award winner that he had been in the past. Interestingly, it seems that this struggle started last year in the postseason.
After a nice year, posting a 2.90 ERA and 3.79 FIP, the southpaw pitched five games with a 3.78 ERA in the post season. Even worse, across two games in the World Series, the left-hander owned a 5.23 ERA.
It is not an ideal year for Dallas Keuchel to be struggling—the lefty is playing his last year before unrestricted free agency. After winning his 2015 Cy Young, the hurler would have been excited at the prospects of entering into a free market, ripe for the bidding. However, now playing his age-thirty-season, the big lefty has diminished in value greatly.
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The left-handed starter has appeared in 16 games this year for the Astros, posting a 3.90 ERA, 3.93 FIP, 1.309 WHIP, and 96 ERA+. In total, the future free agent has been worth a disappointing 1.3 fWAR.
The two-time all-star is a classic sinker-slider type of pitcher. However, he will also offer cutters, four seam fastballs, and change-ups.
Keuchel has used his sinker 43.4% of the time this season. The sinker has produced ground balls at an amazing rate of 66.88% of balls in play. Despite this great rate, the pitch has struggled, posting a .286 BAA. As well, while the sinking fastball has struck out 18 batters, it has also walked 19.
The Houston starter has thrown his cutter 20.2% of the time this season. The cutter is not that fast, averaging a velocity of 86.30 mph. As well, for a cutter, the pitch does not have much movement—only slightly cutting to the glove side. The cut-fastball has been good at preventing hits, though, posting a .217 BAA. However, the pitch has struggled with allowing extra base hits, posting a .433 SLGA and .217 ISOA.
The southpaw has offered up sliders 18.3% of the time this season. Much like the rest of his pitches, Keuchel’s slider is not that hard, averaging a velocity of 79.2 mph. However, with what the pitch lacks in velocity, it makes up for it with strong glove side cut and run. Indicative of this great movement, the slider has produced whiffs at a good rate of 35.09% of swings. As well, the breaking ball has struck out 24 batters.
The lefty completes his repertoire with occasional four seam fastballs and change-ups. The heater has been used 9.6% of the time, while the change has been featured 8.6% of the time. The change has been quite good, producing 15 strikeouts and whiffs on 37.04% of swings. The four seamer has been unexceptional, posting a .267 BAA.
As one may expect from a pitcher that throws a sinker over 40% of the time, Keuchel induces ground balls at an extreme rate. In his Cy Young year, his ground ball rate was an unworldly 61.7%. This year, however, that number has slipped a little, back down to 54.3%—which is still incredible.
While the left-handed hurler does not pretend to be a strike out pitcher, his strikeout numbers are concerning. The lefty has produced a below average 18.5% K-rate and 7.14 K/9. Furthermore, his walk numbers are not that strong, either, posting a 6% BB-rate and 2.32 BB/9.
The Blue Jays have mixed experience, and mixed results, against the Oklahoma native. Kendrys Morales has loved hitting against Keuchel, posting six hits, including a double, in 19 at-bats. However, Steve Pearce has been dreadful, striking out ten times and managing just two hits in 17 at-bats. As well, Justin Smoak has managed just one hit in nine at-bats.
Next: Blue Jays: Anthony Alford falling off the radar in Triple-A
The Blue Jays snuck a victory from the Astros on Monday night against Justin Verlander. If the team could handle a Cy Young candidate, they can surely manage the shell of a former Cy Young award winner.