The Milwaukee Brewers have been linked to both Sonny Gray and Dallas Keuchel in recent weeks. How do the two starters compare? Is there one option that’s clearly better than the other?
Acquiring Sonny Gray from the New York Yankees or signing free agent Dallas Keuchel would provide the Milwaukee Brewers’ rotation with a much needed boost. But is there a superior choice between the two top starters? Let’s take a look at key aspects and see how these two starting pitchers stack up when compared side-by-side.
Gray vs. Keuchel: Cost
Gray is still a member of the New York Yankees, and Keuchel is a free agent. Gray would come to the Milwaukee Brewers in his final season of arbitration. He’s expected to get between $9 million and $10 million in arbitration this winter. The Brewers would have to part with at least one real prospect to acquire him. It’s possible that they would have to deal a top prospect to get Gray into the fold for 2019.
Keuchel is a free agent and would only cost dollars to acquire. He’s likely to get less than the six-year contract at $140 million that Patrick Corbin got, but it may end up closer than most would think.
Gray vs. Keuchel: Years of Control
Gray is a free agent after 2019, and would have to sign a contract extension to stay with the Milwaukee Brewers beyond next season.
Keuchel will play for as long as his contract allows.
Gray vs. Keuchel: Recent History
Gray had a rough season in his first full year with the New York Yankees last year. He struggled to a 4.90 ERA, lost his starting role, and spent most of the late summer in the doghouse of Yankees GM Brian Cashman. Gray tossed 130 1/3 innings, struck out 123, walked 57, and gave up 14 home runs.
Keuchel made 34 starts for the Houston Astros and ended the 2018 campaign with a 3.74 ERA. He logged 204 2/3 innings, struck out 153, walked 58, and was tagged for 18 homers.
Gray vs. Keuchel: Age & Skill
Keuchel just turned 31 years old, while Gray won’t turn 30 until after the 2019 season.
Gray comes at hitters with a a five pitch mix from the right side, but relies mainly on a fastball/slider combo. He averaged 93 MPH on his heater last year. Gray also profiles as a groundball pitcher with a 1.93 GB:FB ratio and a 53.3% groundball rate for his career.
Keuchel throws from the left side, and doesn’t light up a radar gun the same way Gray will. His fastball has averaged under 90 MPH for his entire professional career. He mixes in a slider, cutter, and change up to keep hitters off balance. Keuchel profiles as an extreme groundball pitcher with a 2.64 GB:FB ratio and a 58.8% groundball rate for his career.
Keuchel managed an 8.38 K/9 in his breakout 2015 campaign, but has never come close to those numbers since. His K/9 ratio will likely end up in the 7.00-to-6.00 range. Gray is much more likely to post a K/9 over 8.00. He’s done so in each of the last two years.
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The biggest difference between Gray and Keuchel isn’t skill. It’s cost. Keuchel will cost only money, while Gray will cost what the Yankees and Brewers agree upon. Keuchel also throws left-handed, and is a groundball machine. He may not rack up strikeouts like Gray can, but he can eat up innings and get the Milwaukee Brewers to their bullpen with minimal damage inflicted. Keuchel makes more sense unless the Yankees dramatically lower their asking price for Gray.