ARLINGTON -- When Dallas Keuchel signed a Minor League deal with the Rangers and headed off on assignment with Triple-A Round Rock, he was on a mission to get back to being himself on the baseball field.
Texas signed Keuchel on July 26 after he was designated for assignment by the D-backs six days earlier. Over 12 starts in 2022, the veteran lefty posted an 8.53 ERA between the White Sox and Arizona.
The Keuchel of 2022 is a far cry from the 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner with the Astros. So after two and a half seasons with the White Sox and half of '22 with the D-backs, the lefty still wants to show he can still pound the zone with elite command and athleticism on the mound.
He said on Friday that he felt like he was able to start fresh and learn about himself during his short time in Round Rock.
Despite a fresh outlook, his debut with the Rangers on Saturday night didn’t go as planned. In fact, it went about as well as his other 12 big league starts this season. Keuchel pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing 11 hits and seven earned runs as Texas fell, 11-2, to the Tigers at Globe Life Field.
“Physically, I felt great,” Keuchel said. “That was the main part coming in. The way my pitches were working in Round Rock was kind of similar. It was just death by a thousand cuts, to be honest with you. It's really tough to corral that. I'm getting some weak contact and stuff that I want to do, other than a few pitches. ... I thought there was some weak contact in there, which is going to bode well for me in the future. That's kind of what I made my career on.”
Keuchel notched just one strikeout as Tigers hitters consistently barreled balls with Keuchel’s velocity not even touching 90 mph. While he did pound the zone, he didn't fool Detroit and wasn’t able to get hitters off-balance.
Interim manager Tony Beasley noted that it felt like Keuchel had a hard time hitting some of his spots, which led to him leaving balls over the heart of the plate. Even so, it also felt like every ball that was hit, even softly, found a hole.
The lefty added that he felt like the movement of his pitches was where he wanted it and where it was during his time with Triple-A Round Rock, when he allowed just six runs over 23 1/3 innings before his callup.
“In a perfect world, obviously, he comes out and dominates six or seven innings,” Beasley said. “He left some balls over the big part of the plate and they didn't miss. But he competed, and he ate some innings for us.”
Keuchel said he felt like it was a good jumping-off point for him with the Rangers as he hopes to finish the 2022 season strong before he hits free agency.
The Rangers' offense didn’t add much on the other side of the ball. Texas went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven on base as the offense struggled throughout the night to get anything going.
Beasley pointed to two line-drive double plays -- one in the first inning and one in the sixth -- that thwarted potential rallies when the game was still within reach.
“They were good tonight,” Beasley said of Detroit’s pitchers. “We had a few chances. Leody [Taveras] smoked that ball in the sixth right into the shift playing right at second base. There’s not much we can do about that. We’ve been swinging the bat well, [and] we’ve been grinding out at-bats. Hitting comes and goes.
“It's not going to be something that we're going to do every night as far as scoring six, seven, eight runs. The score got kind of lopsided, and the momentum was on their side all night. That’s just how baseball goes sometimes.”