News broke last week that the Braves had landed left-handed starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel to a one-year, $13 million deal. Throughout Keuchel’s extended free agency, reporters noted that Keuchel was said to be staying in pitching shape and was throwing simulated games every fifth day, as if he was in a rotation. 

If the results of his first minor-league start are any indicated, it worked. 

Keuchel was with Class A Rome on Monday. He needed only 77 pitches to get through seven innings. He allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out nine. 

Yes, it’s only Class A, but that is complete domination. He’s already up to 77 pitches, so he might not need many more tune-ups before getting back to The Show. Maybe one with Triple-A Gwinnett? 

Keuchel, 31, is surely motivated to have a huge season following not getting a multi-year deal this past offseason. The 2015 Cy Young winner was 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 204 2/3 innings last season for the Astros

He won’t likely be an ace like he was a few years back, but moving to the NL East from the AL likely benefits Keuchel and he’ll be plenty good enough to serve as a mid-rotation starter on a staff that has talented youngsters Max Fried and Mike Soroka

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