Chicago White Sox left-hander Dallas Keuchel is bullish about his new team and surroundings.
On Saturday, the veteran will finally get the chance to put those expectations to the test as the White Sox continue their season-opening series against the visiting Minnesota Twins.
Keuchel signed a three-year, $55 million contract with the White Sox in the offseason and shined down the stretch of summer camp, including five scoreless innings against the Chicago Cubs in an exhibition game Monday.
The 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner allowed just one hit against the Cubs while facing the minimum.
“It feels like we’re ready to go, and … I feel ready to go,” Keuchel said. “I was able to do a lot of things I wanted to do to be successful, so I’m ready to turn the lights on for real. And that’s the biggest thing for me: When I wake up in the morning, I know we have a chance to win every night, and that hasn’t been there (for the White Sox) the last four or five years.
“Once a team knows that’s possible, that’s when really good things can happen.”
Although it has been a short and segmented sample size between spring and summer exhibitions around the pause prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Keuchel senses a confidence in the White Sox that he’s excited to help cultivate.
“Our lineup is as good as anybody’s in baseball,” Keuchel said. “We just have a lot of young guys who need to prove some things or prove some things again in order to get some street cred.”
Keuchel, who was 8-8 with a 3.75 ERA in 19 starts with the Atlanta Braves last season, enters Saturday with a 3-3 record and 3.60 ERA in six career appearances — including five starts — against the Twins.
“He’s not afraid, hits his spots,” Chicago manager Rick Renteria said. “He’ll keep us in ballgames. He’s been around the block. He knows what he’s doing.”
The Twins are set to start right-hander Randy Dobnak, who will fill in for Rich Hill after the veteran lefty was scratched from his scheduled club debut. Dobnak was 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA in his first major league season in 2019, which included a three-inning save against the White Sox.
The Twins did not immediately provide a reason for the change Friday night. Hill, 40, initially had been moved up in the rotation to start in place of All-Star Jake Odorizzi, who is opening the season on the injured list due to upper back stiffness. The Twins are Hill’s 10th major league team.
Minnesota won Friday’s season opener 10-5 behind an 11-hit attack that included a pair of home runs from right fielder Max Kepler — starting with a solo shot against Chicago ace Lucas Giolito on the first pitch of the game.
The Twins’ offense started well on the heels of a breakthrough 2019. Minnesota set a single-season major league record by smacking 307 home runs last season, and they also scored a club-best 931 runs.
–Field Level Media