Sharma: Building an ace from the ground up

From SABR member Sahadev Sharma at Baseball Prospectus on June 12, 2015:

What turns you on? No, not in that way; I’m talking metaphorically. What gets you going when watching a pitcher dominate? It’s likely a nasty slider or upper-90s heat or some other diabolical swing-and-miss pitch. But every once in a while, you’ll run into someone who likes it a little different.

“Strikeouts are definitely sexy,” Dallas Keuchel recently told me. “The baseball gurus love strikeouts and rightfully so. It’s nice to have a game where you strike out more hitters than innings pitched. But I’m trying to throw complete games. I want to look back on my career and see a lot of complete games. The strikeouts will come, but if I see complete games, that’s what turns me on, I guess.”

If that’s the case, then Keuchel is probably a bit hot and bothered with his performance of late. After leading the league in complete games last year with five, he has two this season (behind only Mark Buerle’s three) and is tops in baseball with 94 2/3 innings pitched. And Keuchel gets deep into games by doing one thing better than anyone else: inducing groundballs. Keuchel is second in groundball percentage this season, at 64 percent, behind only Brett Anderson, and of all qualified starters, he leads the decade with a 59.5 percent rate.

His manager, A.J. Hinch, has seen these worm-burning ways before. Hinch was in the Diamondbacks’ front office when former Cy Young winner Brandon Webb, the leader in groundball percentage in the 2000s, was at the top of his game.

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Originally published: June 12, 2015. Last Updated: June 12, 2015.