That is not a headline I expected to write four starts into the season. To be honest, Keuchel was not someone who I gave serious thought to as being a part of the 2014 Astros’ rotation to begin the season.
But four starts in, it has worked.
In fact, Keuchel squared off against Seattle ace Felix Hernandez on Tuesday night and came out victorious. The left-hander was in control the entire start and kept the Mariners to just two runs in six innings. If you do want to find a fault with Keuchel’s outing, it is that he needed 113 pitches to get through the six innings. But as a fifth starter, the Astros would take that start from Keuchel every fifth day. And as a nice bonus the left-hander struck out eight batters and allowed only one walk.
On the season Keuchel is 2-1 in four starts with an average of six innings per start (24 total). Keuchel has a 3.38 ERA along with a 1.29 WHIP while walking 2.25 batters every nine innings with 24 strikeouts on the season. The strikeouts are a pleasant surprise, but the left-hander’s 84.2% strand rate does stand to decrease over time.
However, if Keuchel keeps on pitching like this he will likely continue to have success this season. In watching him pitch so far this season, the one thing I have noticed is that his mound presence has improved. Keuchel simply looks a lot more comfortable this season.
While the results so far this season clearly back this up, Keuchel just appears to have a better idea of what he is doing on the mound. It is just four starts, but so far Keuchel has been a bright spot for the Astros this season.
This is what Keuchel had to say to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle after the game:
“I have some above average off-speed (stuff), and when I can throw my fastball strikes with movement, it just kind of sets up that off-speed,” Keuchel said. “Anytime I can get ahead and make those guys think about the fastball, it just makes that offspeed so much better.”