Keuchel went 2-5 with a 7.88 ERA and 20 strikeouts in eight starts covering 32 innings pitched with Chicago this season, his third with the club. He felt confident about turning things around when talking with the media following a 16-7 loss to the Red Sox Thursday, adding he’s been counted out before. But that turnaround will not come with the White Sox, as his six runs allowed over two innings Thursday was his last start with the team.
“Obviously, given the back of the baseball card, so to speak, we wanted to give him the opportunity this season to show that he was able to get himself back on track,” said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn of the Keuchel move. “There was not a magic number of starts, necessarily, that would have been required before we made that decision.
“In fact, though we had been talking about this internally for a period of time, his starts against New York at our place and Boston at Fenway were impressive enough to continue to give him the ball. Obviously, the trend from the last couple, especially the other night, was enough for us to say it was time to try something else in that spot.”
Lance Lynn, who has not pitched during the 2022 season, begins his injury rehabilitation work this weekend with Charlotte. The veteran right-hander thought he would need at least three starts with the Knights on the comeback trail from right knee surgery in early April, with his first one targeted at three innings and 45 pitches.
Michael Kopech, Johnny Cueto, Lucas Giolito and Dylan Cease already comprise a solid White Sox rotation. When the club needs a fifth starter during the upcoming road trip to Toronto and St. Petersburg, the White Sox could turn to Vince Velasquez or bring back Davis Martin from Charlotte.
“[Manager] Tony [La Russa] and I just had a long talk about it. We talked yesterday about it, as well,” Hahn said. “The plan is to put ourselves in a good position to beat the Cubs today and tomorrow and then figure it out once we head out on the road. It had gotten to the point where he had greater confidence in the alternatives going forward.”
“If you don’t pitch regularly, it’s tough to be yourself,” La Russa said. “The way it was shaping up with Johnny here and Lance coming, it’s tough.”
In his talk with Keuchel on Friday, Hahn said Keuchel handled the discussion like a true professional. Hahn also stressed Keuchel’s contributions in the clubhouse and on the field, with the southpaw finishing fifth in the American League Cy Young Award voting in 2020 after signing as a free agent on Dec. 30, 2019. He was in the final year of a three-year, $55.5 million deal.
His stuff just wasn’t quite the same, as the 6.82 ERA over the second half of last season would indicate along with this season’s struggles.
“You saw it. You watched. You guys saw him,” Hahn said. “The decision has been made, and we're moving on. I want to make sure there's an appropriate level of appreciation for his positive contributions while he was here.”
“Personally, I wish him nothing but the best,” White Sox reliever Kendall Graveman said. “In this business, if you have been around a while, you see a lot of things. It’s a jolt, but you have to continue to figure out how to win baseball games with or without whoever is in this locker room today or tomorrow. You can move forward.”
Hahn added a move to the bullpen was considered for Keuchel. But they did not consider it a great recipe for success. The White Sox 40-man roster decreases to 38 with the Keuchel move.