Cincinnati Reds: Is Sonny Gray better than Dallas Keuchel?

Following his trade to the Cincinnati Reds earlier this week right-hander Sonny Gray agreed to a three-year $30 million extension.  The numbers suggest he’s similar to remaining free agent ace Dallas Keuchel.

While the Cincinnati Reds have underwent a roster overhaul this offseason, and the one remaining criticism has been that they have yet to sign an “ace” for the top of their rotation.  Many of those same critics would tell you that signing Dallas Keuchel would provide the staff with a legitimate No. 1 starter.  However, by looking at the numbers the Reds may have acquired their ace at a bargain price.

  • Pitcher A career numbers:  3.66 ERA,  7.9 SO/9,  3.1 BB/9,  0.9 HR/9,  53.3 GB%, 110 ERA+,  3.74 FIP,  1.247 WHIP,  29 years old.
  • Pitcher B career numbers:  3.66 ERA,  7.2 SO/9, 2.6 BB/9,  0.9 HR/9,  58.8 GB%, 108 ERA+,  3.72 FIP, 1.250 WHIP,  31 years old.

MLB Trade Rumors predicted at the outset of free agency that one of these hurlers would receive $82MM over the course of four years.  Hint…it’s not Pitcher A, the 29-year-old. Pitcher A of course is Sonny Gray the Cincinnati Reds latest addition to their starting rotation.  Pitcher B is southpaw Dallas Keuchel the top remaining starting pitcher on the free agent market.

Why is Keuchel considered an ace and Gray is not?  One of the biggest factors is that Gray had a brutal season last year with the New York Yankees.  Stumbling to an 11-9 record with 4.90 ERA and 1.496 WHIP, the 2018 season is one Gray would like to forget.  Not to mention, when you struggle in the Big Apple, the entire baseball world is made aware of it.

Keuchel, on the other hand, produced a 12-11 record with 3.74 ERA and 1.314 WHIP last year with the Houston Astros.  A solid season, but not as strong as his career numbers indicate.  But his ace status is due in large part to winning the 2015 AL Cy Young Award.  As a side note, Gray finished third that year in the Cy Young voting.  Keuchel also cemented his status by shutting down the Yankees in the 2015 AL Wild Card Game in Yankee Stadium.

Interestingly enough, Gray was exceptional in the 2015 post season as well.  Pitching for the Oakland Athletics, he started two games in the American League Division Series against the Detroit Tigers.  The Nashville-native pitched 13 innings, striking out 12, and finishing with a 2.08  series ERA.  However, even when you’re pitching for an excellent A’s team it can be difficult for the baseball world to notice.

Next: 5 Reds players set to improve in 2019

Is Dallas Keuchel worth the contract he’s supposedly seeking?  That’s for the market to decide.  What I do know is that the Cincinnati Reds acquired a pitcher who stacks up quite nicely against him and could become the ace that Reds fans have been eagerly awaiting.

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