This week’s spotlight is on the Houston Astros‘ Dallas Keuchel. To the surprise of some, the Astros are the hottest team in baseball right now, currently riding a ten-game winning streak. At the moment, the Astros have the best record in the American League and are just a half-game back of the best mark in baseball. During the streak, and on the year as a whole, Keuchel has been one of the key factors for Houston’s successful play. Flying well under the radar, Keuchel is blasting off to begin 2015, and just may be a possible AL Cy Young contender by season’s end.
During the Astros’ winning streak, Keuchel has made two starts. In 17 innings pitched he has allowed just five hits, two walks, and only one run. The 27-year-old left-hander will look to extend the streak to 11 games tonight against the Texas Rangers. During the first month of the year, Keuchel has been as good as any with all five of his starts being quality starts while posting a 0.73 ERA. While he is not exactly a power pitcher with the eye-popping strikeout numbers, he is as efficient as anyone while on the mound. In his five starts, Keuchel has yielded just 16 hits and zero long balls, which is a feat in its own pitching in Houston.
Entering the season, pitching was the biggest question mark for the Astros. There is no real star on the staff, and while there were offseason improvements to the lineup with guys like Evan Gattis, and the bullpen with the likes of Luke Gregerson, the rotation was comprised of virtually no true ace. But after one month, Keuchel and Collin McHugh are a combined 7-0 in ten starts. While there are still a ton of games to be played, the duo is gaining confidence, and if they are able to sustain this success, meaningful starts in September just may very well be on the horizon in a chase for the AL West division.
Last year saw Corey Kluber seemingly come out of nowhere to win the AL Cy Young Award. This year, Keuchel just may repeat that pattern. Now in his fourth season, Keuchel’s win total and workload have increased each season. He is developing into a legitimate top of the rotation starter much like Kluber did a season ago. Dallas Keuchel will be in the spotlight to see if he will be able to carry himself and the Astros to new levels in 2015. It just may be time to start keeping an eye on Houston as potential playoff contenders.