Dallas Keuchel calls out Phillies’ front office


Braves starter Dallas Keuchel turned in another gem on Wednesday night against the Phillies, allowing a lone run on three hits and three walks with eight strikeouts over six innings. The Braves went on to win 3-1, taking their second of three possible victories in the four-game set. Keuchel now has a 0.97 ERA across 37 innings spanning his last six starts. Overall, he’s sporting a 3.35 ERA since joining the Braves.

The Braves, you may recall, signed Keuchel to a one-year, $21.21 million deal on June 7. Because of the general stagnation of the free agent market plus the draft pick compensation that was attached to him, Keuchel remained unsigned through the offseason, through spring training, and through the first two months of the season before ultimately signing with the Braves.

The Phillies were among the 29 other teams that passed on Keuchel. After Zach Eflin‘s abbreviated start on Wednesday, the club has an aggregate rotation ERA of 4.56. One wonders if the Phillies might be leading the NL Wild Card or perhaps even the NL East if they had forked over the cash to bring in Keuchel ahead of the start of the regular season. 25 starts and roughly 175 innings of 3.35 ERA ball — or even 3.50-3.75 — sure would have been nice.

Keuchel was asked after the game if he had any extra motivation because he was spurned by the Phillies as a free agent. He responded, via Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia, “I mean, if you don’t come calling, what is there for me to be mad about? I think a lot of those guys over there in the front office are second-guessing themselves, and, I mean, I would too.”

When told of Keuchel’s comment, Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper — who signed a then-record 13-year, $330 million contract in February — was in agreement with the lefty. Harper said, “He’s a Cy Young winner for a reason. If you have an opportunity to go out and get a guy like that, I think all 29 teams should have that. But that’s how the game is right now and that’s how it goes.”

While both players have a point that teams aren’t spending on free agents the way they used to, pointing a finger at the Phillies isn’t exactly the best way to make that point. Not only did the Phillies pledge nearly one-third of a billion dollars to Harper, they also signed Andrew McCutchen (three years, $50 million) and David Robertson (two years, $23 million) while trading for J.T. Realmuto and Jean Segura. After a plethora of injuries and Odúbel Herrera’s suspension left the team short-handed, the Phillies brought in Jay Bruce (who also got hurt) and Corey Dickerson, as well as Jason Vargas and Drew Smyly. Could the Phillies have afforded $20-25 million more per year for Keuchel on a multi-year deal? Certainly. But it’s more productive to point fingers at teams that truly aren’t spending money rather than the teams like the Phillies that have been relatively liberal with opening up the checkbook.

Ex-Angels employee charged in overdose death of Tyler Skaggs

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A former Angels employee has been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in connection with last year’s overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, prosecutors in Texas announced Friday.

Eric Prescott Kay was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first appearance Friday in federal court, according to Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Kay was communications director for the Angels.

Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1, 2019, before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed before the teams played the final three games.

Skaggs died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, a coroner’s report said. Prosecutors accused Kay of providing the fentanyl to Skaggs and others, who were not named.

“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose – coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career – should be a wake-up call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” Nealy Cox said.

If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in prison. Federal court records do not list an attorney representing him, and an attorney who previously spoke on his behalf did not immediately return a message seeking comment.