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Phillies passing on Dallas Keuchel would be a mistake

Jack Fritz
March 12, 2019 - 11:26 am

The Phillies have spent A LOT of money this offseason and they’ve essentially gone “all-in” on a team whose core is between the ages of 25-29.

The Phillies window to win is right now. They know it. You don’t invest $330 million in Bryce Harper, trade your best prospect for a catcher with two years left on his deal, give $50 million to Andrew McCutchen and pay for a closer if your plan isn’t to make it back to the postseason this year.

The problem is that they’re going into a season where they expect to -- and have spent -- like a team trying to make a postseason run with a starting staff that are all question marks behind Aaron Nola.

Could those question marks turn into answers during the season? Definitely. Jake Arrieta has looked phenomenal this spring and really looks poised for a big second season with the Phillies. He has gone back to his arm slot that gave him success in Chicago and ditched the one that ailed him his first season here.

Nick Pivetta is a prime breakout candidate due to his elite K/BB ratio and his nasty fastball/curveball dynamic. If his change-up can give him something we could be looking at a really good season for Pivetta.

I’m not sure what to make of Zach Eflin, he had the outstanding month of June last year, but then his fastball usage went down each month, which didn’t make much sense. Eflin is fine, but I’m not banking on something more than five or six innings a night before handing it over to the bullpen.

Finally there’s Vince Velasquez. His underlying stats suggest that he wasn’t that bad in 2018, but in watching him, and in watching him this spring, it’s more of the same from him. A good fastball, that he nibbles with and more-often-than-not offspeed pitches that lack deception and are non-competitive. Velasquez rides-or-dies with his fastball but instead of attacking hitters with it he tries to nibble and make a perfect pitch every time.   

While yes, it is true that this starting staff was the reason this team was in first place for most of last season. They should improve with an actual defense behind them. Still, watching the staff last season, it isn't a stretch to say were pitching above their heads. 

This is a team with a lineup and a bullpen that is ready to compete for a World Series right now, but with a starting staff that they are hoping is good rather than knowing it’s good.

The Phillies moves so far show you they know that is the case. That’s why they went out and tried to sign Patrick Corbin and JA Happ.

It is also why they should go out and sign Dallas Keuchel.

Is Keuchel the “be-all-end-all” for the Phillies? No, but he is a guy that will throw for over 200 innings and pitch to around a 3.50 ERA.

The best would used to describe Keuchel is dependable. The Phillies should trust Keuchel as their three or four starter to give them seven innings and less than three runs. Will he be his dominant 2015 self if the Phillies brought him in? No, but I trust him a whole hell of a lot more than Velasquez or Eflin.

There’s even some upside to Keuchel. He’d be entering in to the National League, where we all know the pitcher gets to hit and the Phillies defense is much improved from their 2018 selves. The Phillies infield would definitely need to be on their toes if they brought in Keuchel. He’s the best groundball pitcher in the sport and 77 percent of his groundballs in 2018 turned into outs. You can’t give away outs with Keuchel on the mound since he’s not exactly a strikeout guy.

He’s also pitched in massive games the last two seasons and would give the Phillies' young starting staff another veteran, like Arrieta, that they can lean on to guide them through the postseason.

The Phillies owe it to this team (and Bryce Harper) to give them as many opportunities as possible to win now. They’ve opened this window to win by making the moves they made this offseason. It would be a real shame to see them not make this final move only to lose out on the division, or wild card, by a game or two come September.

Waiting for the trade deadline is fine, Robbie Ray, Madison Bumgarner and more may become available, but the Phillies have a chance plug their final hole right now. And you know what? If they need to, they can trade for those guys at the deadline anyway. Overall, this division is too good to think you can make up games late in the season.

Bring in Dallas Keuchel on a three year $50 million deal and let everything else in the rotation fall into place.

The window to win a World Series is now, there’s no reason the Phillies can’t push their final chips in and make a run at it.

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