The White Sox had seen enough.
It was time to stop the bleeding with left-hander Dallas Keuchel.
The weak link in the White Sox starting rotation who hadn’t pitched well since 2020, the first year of a three-year contract that paid him $55 million and made him the highest-paid Sox pitcher, Keuchel was designated for assignment Saturday.
The 2015 American League Cy Young winner with the Astros has struggled with a 7.88 ERA in eight starts this season. He was fifth in Cy Young voting in the shortened 2020 season for the Sox but posted a 5.28 ERA in 32 starts last season.
“He wasn’t quite up to the task of what we needed from him this year,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “We certainly wish him well at his next stop.”
Hahn went out of his way to cite Keuchel’s performance in the abbreviated 2020 season. And his two good starts in 2022. He didn’t mention Keuchel getting beat by the Athletics in Game 2 of the 2020 wild-card series.
In any event, with a rotation of Lucas -Giolito, Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech, Johnny Cueto and with Lance Lynn joining the team in June, Keuchel wasn’t of much use anymore.
“You saw it. You watched. You guys saw him,” Hahn said. “I don’t think we need to grave-dance on this too much. The decision has been made, and we’re moving on. I want to make sure there’s an appropriate level of appreciation for his positive contributions while he was here.”
Keuchel, 34, almost certainly won’t be claimed off waivers because he would be owed $14.1 million for the rest of the season. The Sox will pay that if he clears waivers and gets released.
In the Sox’ 5-1 loss to the Cubs on Saturday before a sellout crowd at Guaranteed Rate Field. Cueto (0-1, 2.41) wasn’t as sharp as he appeared in his first two scoreless starts of six innings each, allowing five runs on nine hits and three walks.
Manager Tony La Russa trusted Cueto to start the seventh inning when the Cubs pinned their fourth and fifth runs on him.
“I watched the way he was throwing,” La Russa said. “He wasn’t missing by much, he was like he usually is. Other than the first inning or so they didn’t center a lot balls real good.”
Cueto deserved better in the Cubs’ two-run first. Patrick Wisdom’s catchable pop fly with two outs behind first baseman Jose Abreu dropped in short right field for an RBI double, then Frank Schwindel scored Wisdom with a single.
Jake Burger homered for the second time since getting recalled from Triple-A Charlotte on Monday.
The Sox were denied a run in the second when slow-footed Yasmani Grandal was thrown out easily at home on Burger’s single to Rafael Ortega in right field. The Sox are tied for the lead in the majors with nine runners thrown out at home.
“I patted [third-base coach] Joe [Mc-Ewing] on the back,” La Russa said. “That’s one of the things you have to do when you’re struggling, man. You have to push.”
There was no more pushing Keuchel, though. After getting shelled by the Red Sox for six runs in two innings Thursday, Keuchel was asked if he felt uncertain about his status in the starting rotation going forward after the game.
“Not really,” he said. “I have to do my job. That’s first and foremost. If I don’t do my job I’m the first to admit, hey, there are other options. I’ve afforded myself some leeway and I’m in no way, shape or form out of this thing.”
It turns out he was.
Hahn said he took the news well Friday and expressed disappointment he didn’t -perform.
“Dallas was a pro. Dallas was great,” Hahn said. “He and I had a heart-to-heart conversation about it.”
Infielder Danny Mendick was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte to take Keuchel’s spot on the roster.