The tarp already was on at Coolray Field two hours before the expected first pitch, so newly acquired Braves pitcher Dallas Keuchel will have to wait to make his first outing.
Saturday’s Gwinnett Stripers game against the Durham Bulls was postponed because of rain. Keuchel, who agreed to a one-year, $13 million deal Thursday, said the plan now is to make his first start in Rome on Monday for the Single-A Rome Braves. He is slated to pitch five to six innings with around 75-90 pitches.
“I just wanted to get those competitive juices flowing again,” Keuchel said. “I’m ready to go physically… (but) I still want get out there and face some live competition. Hopefully the weather cooperates on Monday.”
Keuchel, while waiting to sign with a team, said he stayed on his regular routine and pitched every fifth day. The plan was to be as physically active as he is during the regular season. He described the past three months as his own personal regular season.
“I’ve been through the grind long enough to know what exactly I need to do be ready,” Keuchel said. “The last step is kind of getting that adrenaline pumped, so hopefully I’ll get that on Monday and then we’ll see where we’re at.”
While Keuchel is patiently awaiting action Monday, he’s able to see the potential with the Braves. Reuniting with catcher Brian McCann (the two played in Houston in 2017 and 2018) was a draw for him.
He said he spoke with McCann and was filled in on the current state of the Braves. There wasn’t much of a pitch needed, as there was mutual interest.
“Making the playoffs was a great sign for their young ballclub,” Keuchel said of what drew him to Atlanta. “With quite a few rookies involved in the process, then you’ve got a few more rookies this year. If you want to be a great organization and compete for a number of years like the Braves did in the ’90s and early 2000s, you need that.”
Keuchel previously stated the date of his next major league start is flexible. It’s likely he will pitch in a couple of minor league stints before making his debut.
He hopes to join the Braves’ five-man rotation, which currently consists of Mike Foltynewicz, Julio Teheran, Max Fried, Kevin Gausman and Mike Soroka. It’s unclear who Keuchel will replace. But he’s hoping his experience, having won the 2015 American League Cy Young Award and starting in the 2017 World Series, will make a difference.
“I want to be the guy out there that the guys lean on, hopefully at the end of the season there’s five guys that the team wants to lean on and that’s the mentality that I’m going to bring to the team. … We’ll see where it goes.”