It was disappointing in 2014 when Dallas Keuchel was limited to 200 innings by the Houston Astros. The 26 year-old left-hander threw his last game of the season on September 20, with a 10-1, eight inning win over the Seattle Mariners. The game put him at exactly 200 innings and he was finished for the season. Astros fans certainly hope Keuchel will not be limited in 2015.
In his third season with the Astros, the Oklahoma-born Keuchel finished 12-9 in 29 starts, with 5 complete games and an American League seventh best 2.93 ERA. He struck out 146 against only 48 walks, and earned a Gold Glove Award as the league’s top fielding pitcher. His performance left Astros fans wanting more and believing the team has a potential star in the man that led his Tulsa, OK high school team to a state championship in 2004 and 2006.
“There’s a lot that goes into it, but he can handle more than 200 innings if we need it.” – A.J. Hinch
Now, preparing for the 2015 season, the fortunes of the Astros are finally looking up after six consecutive losing years. With prospects acquired in trades and the draft beginning to make the big club, this is the first season in years Astros fans can really begin to feel good about their team. The Astros need Dallas Keuchel to be given a chance to help the team even more than he did in 2014. Pitching more than 200 innings is one way that can happen.
“Keuchel really showed he can provide quality and quantity innings,” said new Houston manager A.J. Hinch. “We will certainly lean on him to continue that.”
That is good news for long-suffering Astros fans, to know they can count on the Astros to allow Keuchel to become even more of a workhorse than he was last season.
“There’s a lot that goes into it, but he can handle more than 200 innings if we need it,” continued Hinch. “He is a good one.”
Bill Brown, Astros television announcer, responded to the question ‘do you have a prediction for Keuchel’s innings pitched in 2015’:
“No prediction, but it would make sense to monitor his innings carefully unless the club is in a pennant race. He deserves that.”
Obviously no one wants Keuchel to over-extend himself, however allowing him to test his own physical and mental limits will help him grow as a pitcher. Keuchel needs a chance to prove he can handle the load even if the Astros are not in a pennant race. Not only does such a strategy help Keuchel, it also provides a role model for other Astros pitchers who should be inspired to step up and prove they too can be workhorse hurlers. Let him develop at his own pace, however monitoring as Brown suggested makes perfect sense.
“The only prediction I have is that he’ll have a very good year,” said Alyson Footer, MLB.com. National Correspondent and former Astros director of social media.
Keuchel certainly has the opportunity to have a great year. A.J. Hinch brings a fresh perspective to the team, and hopefully, the leadership that will propel the young team to new heights. With the Astros looking improved as a team for the first time in years, let the men with the emerging ability step up and prove it – men like Dallas Keuchel.
Note: all quotes in this article from A.J. Hinch, Bill Brown, and Alyson Footer were responses to questions posed by the author via Twitter.