Keuchel: Need to ‘lock in’ to make playoff list

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CHICAGO – Struggling White Sox southpaw Dallas Keuchel understands that the coming September will likely determine his playoff role with the team after only lasting one inning on Friday night against the Crosstown Cubs.

“My last 10 starts have been lousy to say the least,” Keuchel said on Saturday. “There are probably only a handful of games I’ve been to myself. I have to lock it last month. That’s for sure.”

Keuchel allowed six runs on seven hits and a walk on Friday, seeing his ERA increase to 5.00 for the season. He blames his right-handed double-sided fastball for many of his woes. Right-handers are down 0.425 on this ground, against a career average of 0.376.

“I looked for this most of the time,” Keuchel said. “It’s my biggest handicap right now… My lack of control of both seams down and to the right-handed has hampered my abilities pretty much the entire season.”

Keuchel is part of a dynamic rotation that includes Cy Young contestants Lance Lynn and Carlos Rodon, as well as young pitchers Lucas Giolito and Dylan Cease. The quartet was key to the team’s first place finish in the Central American League. It won’t be easy to beat one of them in October.

“You follow who plays well and who shoots well until the end,” said manager Tony La Russa. “This is a factor that you are looking at. You put a bunch of factors together. [Keuchel’s] his track record is definitely a plus for him.

Keuchel helped the Houston Astros win a championship in 2017 before signing a 3-year, $ 55.5 million contract with the White Sox ahead of the 2020 season. He compiled a 1.99 ERA last year. and said earlier this season he was preparing for the 162-game marathon rather than the 60-game sprint from a year ago. But that hasn’t happened for him so far. Keuchel has a 7.43 ERA in five starts in August.

“I wish I had had something for you that I didn’t feel right about,” Keuchel said. “It’s the best, physically, that I have felt all year. It’s mind-boggling… Home runs have been my death wish this year. More than any other year, I pitched.

Keuchel has already allowed a career-high 23 long balls this season, including a Cubs third baseman Patrick Wisdom in the first inning on Friday. It remains to be seen if he can correct his game in time for the playoffs, as the White Sox are set to play in October.

“I think that’s fair to say,” Keuchel said, when asked if he was running for a spot on the playoff squad. “I was the weakest starter in the rotation for a good part of the year. Of course, I think about it. Letting myself be drawn into this idea is the least of my concerns at the moment.

“I’m trying to drive this thing in September and make adjustments and I hope we’re sitting here talking about a lot of wins instead of a lot of pitiful performances and the team backing me up and we are winning games here.”

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