The Braves will be happy with what they saw from new signee Dallas Keuchel on Monday night.
The 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner struck out nine and walked one over seven one-hit frames in his first tuneup start as Class A Rome edged Charleston, 1-0, in 10 innings at State Mutual Stadium.
After yielding a one-out single to Max Burt in the second inning, the left-hander retired 15 consecutive batters -- punching out eight of them -- before Canaan Smith drew a walk with one out in the seventh. Keuchel induced a flyout from Mickey Gasper and a groundout by Burt to strand Smith, putting an end to his first start since last Sept. 29 with the Astros.
Video: Atlanta's Keuchel notches ninth K
"It was a lot more fun for me than it has been in a long time," Keuchel told media following the game. "It was nice to get back out there, get some adrenaline pumping from game competition and just try to execute as many pitches as I could."
The 31-year-old was efficient, throwing 55 of 77 pitches for strikes. He felt he could have worked more than seven frames.
"I probably could have gone an inning more or maybe nine, but up and down seven times was pretty good," Keuchel told media. "I think tomorrow and the second day will really tell me how my body feels."
Gameday box score
He is scheduled to make at least one more start in the Minors before making his 2019 big league debut with the Braves.
"Just thinking about it, maybe one more. But we'll see," Keuchel said after the game.
Using his slider and changeup to keep the RiverDogs off-balance, Keuchel hit 89 mph with his fastball but averaged in the mid-80s. That doesn't concern the lefty as much as getting his head back into competition mode again.
"I don't think I'm anywhere close mentally to where I want to be, but that takes a lot of time and I'm a perfectionist," Keuchel said. "It's not necessarily a velocity game with me. It never has been. In California, when I was throwing, routine-wise, I think I was anywhere from 85 to 90. [I was] just trying to stay under control, because I knew in a competitive environment the juices are going to flow and you're going to have an uptick in velocity."
Keuchel signed with Atlanta as a free agent on Friday after spending his first seven years in the Majors with Houston. During that time, the two-time American League All-Star posted a 76-63 record with a 3.66 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 192 appearances. He won four Gold Gloves and helped lead the Astros to their first World Series title in 2017.
2019 MiLB include
Keuchel recorded a 12-11 record, 3.74 ERA and 1.31 WHIP with 153 strikeouts in 204 2/3 innings last season.
His best season came in 2015 when he finished 20-8 with three complete games, a 2.48 ERA and held batters to a .217 average to claim the Cy Young Award. He won 14 games during the club's championship season of 2017.
The eighth-year pro is expected to make $13 million for the remainder of the season.
Left-hander Tanner Lawson (2-2) followed Keuchel with three perfect innings for Rome, fanning three.
Yankees No. 13 prospect Luis Gil went toe-to-toe with Keuchel, scattering three hits and a walk over seven scoreless frames while tying his career high with 10 strikeouts.