Former Astros ace Dallas Keuchel was the last man standing from the grueling free agency winter of hell that followed the 2018 season. Craig Kimbrel, the other glaringly overqualified but evidently unemployable pitcher, landed with the Cubs Wednesday night; Thursday night, at last, Keuchel scored a gig with the Atlanta Braves, one of the too-small handful of teams making an honest push for relevance in 2019.
The Braves are currently in second place in the NL East, trailing the Philadelphia Phillies and a few games up on the disappointing Mets and the even more disappointing Nationals. Keuchel, a former Cy Young winner, should be an immediate upgrade over probably Kevin Gausman, who has struggled to a 2–5 record and a 6.15 earned run average through 12 starts, and seems likely to head to the bullpen.
Keuchel had a solid 2018 with the Astros, going 12–11 with a respectable 3.74 earned run average, but his 1.314 WHIP was his worst since his first full season in the majors, and, at 31 years old, it’s possible he’s already past his prime. But there are roughly a kerjillion definitively worse pitchers clogging up rotations around the majors, and it was only a matter of time before some smart team grabbed Keuchel up now that draft pick compensation is no longer a factor. The Braves waited out the first third of the season secure in the knowledge that no one would jump the market, because many teams don’t give a shit about winning, and all the rest would rather hold onto a tiny and unrealistic chance at drafting a player of Keuchel’s quality than have the actual living and breathing Dallas Keuchel. Cool sport you’ve got there, baseball.