The Rangers announced that Dallas Keuchel is slated to start tomorrow evening’s game against the Tigers. Texas placed southpaw Cole Ragans on the 15-day injured list, retroactive to August 23, due to a left calf strain. The Rangers already have a vacancy on the 40-man roster, so no additional transaction will be necessary to formally select Keuchel’s contract.
It’s a return to the big leagues for the 2015 AL Cy Young award winner, who will be on his third team of the 2022 season. Keuchel opened the year with the White Sox but was released in May after posting a 7.88 ERA over eight starts. The veteran southpaw signed a minor league deal with the Diamondbacks and made it back to the majors. He was tagged for 22 runs (20 earned) in 18 2/3 frames, however, and Arizona also let him go.
Texas rolled the dice on Keuchel last month, signing him to a minor league pact. He’s spent the past few weeks at Triple-A Round Rock, going 23 1/3 innings over four outings (just under six frames per start) with an excellent 2.31 ERA. Keuchel has walked an elevated 12.1% of batters faced there, but he’s induced ground-balls at a huge 64.9% clip. That’s more in line with the grounder numbers he racked up at his peak with the division-rival Astros than the even 50% rate (a strong but not elite mark) he’s posted with Chicago and Arizona this year.
Keuchel adds a veteran option with a lengthy track record of career success to the Texas rotation for the stretch run. The Rangers will only pay him the prorated portion of the $700K league minimum for any time he spends in the majors, with the White Sox otherwise on the hook for his $18MM salary this year (plus a $1.5MM buyout on a 2023 option in his original contract with Chicago). The 34-year-old will return to the free agent market this offseason, and a strong showing over the season’s final month could aid his efforts to find a big league deal over the winter.
Ragans was called up for his major league debut earlier this month. The former first-rounder has made four starts, allowing ten runs (nine earned) in 18 1/3 frames. Texas hasn’t provided any indication whether he’s expected to return before the end of the season. The 24-year-old is looking to carve out a back-end role in next year’s rotation.