Many fans have been
matching the St. Louis Cardinals and Dallas Keuchel this offseason. However, this is not a smart use of the team’s resources.
As the offseason continues many fans are looking for any and every kind of addition to the roster. Our own Dave Atkins (@Cardinals_Live on Twitter) wrote a piece last week matching the St. Louis Cardinals and Dallas Keuchel.
Too Many Options
Anyone who knows me or has read things I have written in the past knows that I love pitching. One of my favorite things to do is to break down the effectiveness of a pitcher and what they bring to the table.
This is one of the reasons why I love this current Cardinals team so much. There are so many great options for the starting rotation and bullpen alike. I won’t go as far as Mike Shildt and claim that the team has five number one starters.
The winners of those starting spots should all be incredibly effective over the course of the season, if they are not there will be an incredibly hungry guy to take his spot if not. Just by nature of having at least 10 guys to effectively fill out your starting rotation, it makes no sense to add a starting pitcher to the group to cloud things even more. Even if it is for a quality guy like Dallas Keuchel.
But, this team has a ton of options. This coming season you will have Carlos Martinez, Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, John Gant, Dakota Hudson, Daniel Poncedeleon, and Austin Gomber all “competing” for five spots in the rotation. (I surround competing in quotes because at least four of the five spots are guaranteed.)
Keuchel Not a Drastic Upgrade
The other aspect of this is that Keuchel simply isn’t a drastic upgrade over what the Cardinals currently have. Don’t get me wrong, Keuchel has been phenomenal for the Astros and is definitely one of those “diamond in the rough” type starting pitchers.
Keuchel’s 2014 and 2015 seasons were great as the lefty posted a FIP of 3.21 and 2.91 in those two seasons encompassing a 32-17 record that included a 20 win season in 2015. However, Keuchel has not been nearly as good since those two seasons posting.
Now, I am not saying that Keuchel has been terrible but he’s not been elite. In 2016 his 3.87 FIP was good for 33rd in the league just two spots above Adam Wainwright who posted a 3.93 FIP but also posted a 4.62 ERA and 14 spots behind Carlos Martinez and his 3.61 FIP. In 2017, Keuchel finished 24th in FIP with a 3.79. While that number is pretty good, it is a bit skewed as Keuchel only started 23 games and had 145 innings.
Keuchel’s best season out of the last three was this past season where Keuchel posted a 3.69 FIP (23rd in the league) and started over 30 games for the first time since the 2015 season as he took the mound 34 times for the Astros.
These numbers are pretty good. They’re not quite enough to make Keuchel an elite addition, however. He’s not a Corey Kluber, Chris Sale, Max Scherzer, Jacob Degrom type pitcher. Which means he’s not much of an upgrade over
Keuchel’s 3.72 career FIP would put him right about third in this rotation behind Carlos Martinez and Miles Mikolas. If you take into effect a better year from Jack Flaherty in his second full season as a big league starter, you could then move Keuchel back behind Flaherty as the fourth best starter.
You can argue that he’s better than Adam Wainwright or Michael Wacha and you’d probably be right. However, there’s a reason Wacha and Wainwright are only sitting with one year left before they hit free agency.
Once they’re gone, someone else in the organization will step up. You’ve got Dakota Hudson who’s a top 100 prospect and Alex Reyes who was once the top pitching prospect in all of
If you still need starting pitching after these guys get their opportunity, there’s Genesis Cabrera, Ryan Helsley, Jake Woodford, and many others after them.
Keuchel is going to get 4-5 years for somewhere north of $100 Million with an AAV around $20-$25 Million and he’s absolutely worth it. He’s going to make a club really happy they signed him as he fits more in the “crafty lefty” category more than he does fit the “power pitcher” category which means age won’t have too much effect.
However, he’s just not needed here in St. Louis. About the only kind of pitching upgrade that would help this team would be one of the guys previously mentioned. None of those are available as free agents and the trade acquisition cost would be through the roof on any of those.