'Tough decisions' ahead for Chicago, Keuchel

September 28th, 2021

The American League Division Series starts Oct. 7 and the White Sox have a roster decision to make beforehand regarding left-hander . With five games left in the regular season, it’s anybody’s guess whether Keuchel will be on Chicago’s postseason roster.

But maybe Keuchel opened up some eyes as he led the White Sox to an 8-7 victory over the Tigers at Comerica Park on Monday afternoon.

Keuchel allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks over five solid innings, recording two strikeouts. He used his slider quite a bit, and the Tigers had problems with the pitch. In the second inning, however, Keuchel found himself behind, 1-0.

With two outs and a man on first, Willie Castro hit a ground ball to shortstop Leury García. It appeared to be an easy play, but García bobbled the ball and Castro was ruled safe and was awarded a single. Niko Goodrum would later score on a single by Akil Baddoo. But Keuchel didn't get flustered and induced Jonathan Schoop to ground out to end the inning.

“It was his brightest moment,” manager Tony La Russa said. “[Keuchel’s] brightest moment was getting the outs right after not getting outs that you expected.”

Keuchel held Detroit to that one run until the fifth inning, when he allowed a solo home run to Schoop.

“I felt I had really good stuff today, outside of a few pitches early when I got in trouble with a couple of walks in the second inning,” Keuchel said. “I felt like I was right on par with who I am."

By then, the White Sox had already scored enough for Keuchel to pick up his ninth victory of the season. Their biggest inning came in the fourth, when they scored six runs off right-hander Matt Manning. César Hernández and Zack Collins drove in two runs apiece, while Yasmani Grandal hit his 23rd home run of the season.

After Sunday’s regular-season-ending game, the White Sox will have to decide whether to put Keuchel on their 26-man ALDS roster. This is a pitcher who has been to the postseason five times. His biggest highlight was helping the Astros win the World Series against the Dodgers in 2017 -- the same Houston team Chicago could face in the ALDS. La Russa acknowledged that the roster decision is going to be tough.

“The obligation is take your best and take your best shot at winning,” La Russa said. “Whoever gets the ball, he has earned it in the opinion of the decision makers. Because we are deep enough, there are going to be some tough conversations, tough decisions.”

Keuchel believes he has figured things out on the mound, but he wished the positive results had started earlier in the season. He acknowledged that he would like to be on the postseason roster.

“It’s probably too late with the four or five bad starts in a row,” Keuchel said. “In this league, you don’t get a lot of second chances to kind of rewind. I’m paying for it now. But that was a nice win.”