Behind a strong offensive output from the outfield and scoreless performances from eight different pitchers, the Houston Astros shutout the Miami Marlins 4-0 to improve to 3-1 in Spring Training.
Keuchel, who finished with a 6-10 record and 5.15 ERA in 153.2 innings for the Astros last season, earned the win in his first appearance of the spring. He allowed just one baserunner in two innings of work.
After the game, Keuchel mentioned that he changed up his approach during his workouts for this upcoming season.
“Just a little bit more control, you know?” Keuchel said. “Guys sometimes get pretty antsy in the bullpen – ‘get it and throw, get it and throw’. [I worked on] control in circumstances, or different scenario in bullpens. It’s very slow and methodical.”
Keuchel, 26, is one the “senior” members of the Astros rotation, espcecially considering he has the better part of two full seasons under his belt. He draws on this experience in order to get the best performance out of himself that he can every time he takes the mound.
“When you warm up for a game – starter wise – it’s all about getting your arm loose. Some of these guys speed up the game already because they’ve got that scrappy fire because you know when you get in the game you’re going to get some adrenaline flowing. So, it’s going to speed up a little bit. If you can control that, I think you’ve got a good chance to control the game.”
For his career, Keuchel has held left-handed batters to a slash line of .275/.327/.423 and a K/BB rate of 4.50. He expects that success to continue, or even improve, with the new grip he found for his breaking ball.
“I was doing that whole spike-curveball, and I still will throw that a few times – just slower, you know if I have a long at at-bat and I’m trying to get some guy out on their front foot, but I really tried to tighten it up,” Keuchel said. “I went back the curveball I had back in high school, actually. That was my money pitch – prospect wise. I’ve got a good feel for it back again.”
Seven other pitchers (Moylan, Albers, Cruz, Downs, Zeid, Chapman and Lo) would combine to throw the remaining seven innings for the Astros, highlighted by Albers’ fourth inning where he struck out two of the three batters he faced.
Offensively, Mark Krauss continued his hot start to Spring Training with a solo home run in the first inning. Krauss, who was the designated hitter in Monday’s contest, would add a single in the sixth inning and would be the only Astros with multiple hits in the game.
George Springer drew four walks, stole a base and scored two runs – barely beating the tag at home in the seventh inning when he came home from first base on a J.D. Martinez RBI double.
The Astros return to action at 1:10 p.m. Tuesday when they host the New York Mets at Osceola County Stadium. The game is scheduled to be available for live video stream on MLB.tv – which has no blackout restrictions during Spring Training.