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What has gotten into Dallas Keuchel?

May 20, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT

Dallas Keuchel AP

Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel came into this season as a 26-year-old with a lifetime 9-18 record and 5.20 ERA in 239 innings. He also had a 4.69 ERA in 134 innings at Triple-A. There was really no reason to believe he possessed any sort of upside beyond being a back-of-the-rotation starter on a really bad team.

And yet right now he’s 5-2 with a 2.92 ERA and 55/12 K/BB ratio in 62 innings for the Astros, who’re 6-3 when he starts and 11-25 when anyone else takes the mound. Last night he took a shutout into the ninth inning versus the Angels and came up one out short of a complete game.

There’s nothing different about Keuchel’s raw stuff this season–his average fastball is still under 90 miles per hour. But for whatever reason that pitch has gone from being something hitters tee off on to an actual weapon and his changeup has also gotten significantly better results.

Compared to his first two seasons in the majors Keuchel’s strikeouts are up 31 percent, his walks are down 47 percent, and he’s allowed just four homers in 242 plate appearances. I’m not sure how long this can last, but it’s been fun to watch and it’s kept the Astros from really being a mess this season.

  1. Bob - May 20, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    “I’m not sure how long this can last, but it’s been fun to watch and it’s kept the Astros from really being a mess this season.”

    The Astros have actually played good baseball outside of Keuchel’s performance with five wins in the last six games (three of those were not Keuchel starts). Advanced numbers indicated they were due for some positive regression from a horrible offensive start. Keuchel has been good, but their starting pitching has been pretty good for the most part. So let’s not give him all the credit for keeping the Astros from “really being a mess.”

    On the other hand, the bullpen has been a disaster, except for Tony Sipp. And you can take a snapshot any team in a 162-game season and find 7 wins in 11 games. The more interesting part of the season will be watching George Springer’s development and to see who else (Jonathan Singleton, Asher Wojciechowski, possibly, Michael Foltynewicz) comes up and how they adjust to the bigs.

  2. Andee - May 20, 2014 at 12:10 PM

    Drugs.

  3. jsala02 - May 20, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    I have watched him pitched this year and guys are just not getting on base on him. Last night, before the 9th, the only other time LA had more than one runner on base at a time was the 4th. Dude is on a roll

  4. stex52 - May 20, 2014 at 2:14 PM

    It surprised me, too. But a lot of pitchers have gotten mileage out of the FB/changeup combination as long as there is a significant speed difference. We will see how long it lasts, but I like it so far.

  5. alexo0 - May 20, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    Wonder what Luhnow will get for him at the deadline?

    • stex52 - May 20, 2014 at 2:53 PM

      Probably nothing. The Astros are supposed to be moving into “hold” mode. He may not be part of the plans for the next couple of years, but they will still be short of pitching for a while. I imagine he stays.

  6. proudlycanadian - May 20, 2014 at 4:23 PM

    Doesn’t it seem strange that a person named Dallas is playing for Houston?

    • stex52 - May 20, 2014 at 6:04 PM

      Now there is a sensitive topic. Imagine a guy named “Boston” pitching for the Jays.

      • proudlycanadian - May 20, 2014 at 6:28 PM

        I would love to see a guy named Boston play for the Evil Empire.

      • proudlycanadian - May 20, 2014 at 6:31 PM

        How about a player named “Jack Kennedy Boston” playing for the Yankees?

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