Just a couple weeks back, Dave Cameron examined the things that should worry us about Dallas Keuchel. He was more nuanced, but we could break it down into three components: lower velocity, fewer calls on the black, and fewer swings. For a guy that had the third-lowest zone percentage in baseball last year, the latter two seem hugely important for his success. So I asked the Astros’ lefty what he’s doing about those things.
Asking a pitcher about velocity is a delicate thing. Big increases mean whispers, and big declines mean… whispers of another sort. And then there’s the brutal march of time that fritters away our athleticism, day by day. You walk on egg shells.
But they know their radar-gun readings. And though age should have stolen about a tick from Keuchel, it looks like he’s down more than a tick and a half on the radar gun, from 89.6 mph last year to 88.0 this year. But that’s comparing all of last year to this year’s April, and also ignoring a slight uptick in recent games. If you compare last week’s velocity to last year’s April velocity, Keuchel is only down 0.8 mph, well in the normal range for a 28-year-old pitcher.