Dallas Keuchel, an Astros starter for seven years, is still unemployed almost a month into the season. Maybe it’s time to get him back in the rotation.
Keuchel is reportedly no longer seeking that big multi-year contract and is open to a one-year deal. He may be regretting turning down that $17.9 million qualifying offer the Astros put on the table. Considering the Astros’ recent woes of the pitching staff, it might not be a bad idea to reinsert Keuchel into the rotation.
If it is something that GM Jeff Luhnow is considering, they might not want to wait too long. As pitchers start to go down with injuries around the league, interest in Keuchel will likely increase. The Mets had a recent scare with Jacob deGrom but got good news from his MRI. Nathan Eovaldi of the Red Sox will be out four to six weeks following elbow surgery. So the time might be right for Luhnow, Keuchel and his agent to sit down and have a chat before it’s too late.
Some teams may still be holding back for fear of losing the compensatory pick the Astros would get if Keuchel is signed elsewhere. If teams wait to sign him until after the upcoming MLB draft, that takes place in early June, they would no longer be held to that compensation.
The Astros pitching staff has given up 29 runs in the last three games. It’s still early in the season and way too early to get in any kind of panic stage. I’m confident Gerrit Cole and Collin McHugh will make their adjustments and turn it around soon. But it might be more advantageous for the Astros to send Brad Peacock back to the bullpen on a more permanent basis.
Peacock may be best suited as a reliever, than as a starter. In 2017 when Peacock’s season was pretty much split between starting and relieving, there was a significant difference in his performance. In the 21 games he started, his ERA was 3.22, versus the 1.77 ERA he had as a reliever. This year seems to mimic that trend with a 4.86 ERA as a starter and 2.08 in the games he came in from the pen.
By returning Peacock to the bullpen, the Astros could send Framber Valdez back down to AAA to get more needed work in the Minors to be more Major League ready down the road. It could also be of more benefit to Peacock to pitch solely out of the bullpen, rather then bouncing back and forth between roles.
Dallas Keuchel was a nice asset to the Astros’ pitching staff in his time here and I feel he still could be. It would also bring back a little more familiarity and normalcy to the starting rotation to have Keuchel back in there. Plus, it would give the promising prospects, like Forrest Whitley, more time to hone their skills without rushing them up too early and damaging their confidence.