In 2014 the Houston Astros went from having zero fantasy-relevant pitchers, to having two breakout performances by Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh. Keuchel has quickly became a fan favorite because of his awesome beard, and his personality. He was considered by most Astros fans as irrelevant after a poor 2013. But 2014 is officially over, so what can Astros fans and fantasy baseball owners expect in 2015 from Dallas Keuchel?
Can you trust Keuchel in 2015 or is he a bust pick for 2015?
Sep 7, 2014;Chicks Dig the Ground ball. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
What happened in 2014 for Dallas Keuchel
Let’s look at some stats comparing Dallas Keuchel’s 2013 and 2014 seasons, and look at what improvements he was able to make to be successful. Will he prove that you must fear the beard, or will he do his best Lucas Harrell impression?
Looking at Keuchel’s stats in the above table, which ones stand out to you? Besides the increased win totals by 100% from 2013, what are the other greatest changes in the two seasons? The stat that changed the most in my eyes his home run per fly ball ratio which decreased by 44.8%. This means that the outfielders did less watching the ball fly out in 2014. He increased his innings pitched by 30.5%, while decreasing ERA by 43.1% and decreasing his WHIP by 23.4%.
One telling stat that most fans don’t understand is the importance BABIP or batting average with balls in play, which decreased by 13.2%. So why was Keuchel so successful in 2014? Let’s just say that chicks love the beard and his ground-ball percentage of 63.5%. Keuchel gave up 13.8% more ground balls in 2014.
Dallas Keuchel’s 2015 Rankings
Let’s look at what the experts feel about Dallas Keuchel’s chances in 2015.
My father-in-law will not be happy about what I’m about to say, because he’s keeping Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh in a 12-team 10 keeper league. Sorry Bill, but with the 12-team league, the worst player kept should be ranked > 120th overall. Keuchel’s rankings have a range of 149th to 261st overall ranking. Thanks Yahoo for being the outlier and being bullish on the “Baseball Beard.” Keuchel’s average overall ranking is 206th overall, which is better than in 2014 when he was basically undraftable.
Depending on if you have Astros “Homers” drafting, cough “Bill,” Keuchel should be drafted in the 21st round of 10-team league. Looking at the distribution, he could be drafted as soon as 15th round or as late as the 27th round, which for most leagues means he will not be drafted. Once again, thanks Yahoo for giving the Baseball Beard some love. (FYI: He will be drafted)
The more teams you have, the more likely that somebody will reach for the Astros ace due to a thin pitching market with more teams. Dallas Keuchel should be drafted at the beginning of the 18th round. However if a lot of people paid the $6.99 to buy Roto Professor’s rankings, he loves the Baseball Beard. Some people may reach for him as soon as the 13th round and as late as the 22nd round. Yahoo can’t spoil the party in a 12-team league, because he will be drafted.
From fantasypros.com, they say that based on Keuchel’s early ADP (average draft position) of 207, 56% percent of the people polled would rank him lower than 207. Click on it and look at the experts comments.
Verdict: Reach for Keuchel in the early teen rounds, or gamble that he will be there in the later rounds.
Dallas Keuchel’s 2015 Projections
Yahoo did not have the courage to give projections for Dallas Keuchel to prove the 27th round ranking, but the above places did. Looking at Roto Professor’s projections, you can tell why he had Keuchel ranked as high as he did. Looking at the projections, it doesn’t really look like people are doubting he will duplicate the season, I think he is lacking the strikeouts from moving up a tier in the rankings.
Projections: 191 IP/ 3.65 ERA/ 1.26 WHIP/ 12 wins/ 138 K’s
What are others Saying?
"The emergence of both Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh in 2014 allowed the club to distance itself by a small margin from the very bottom of the standings. Largely on the strength of their contributions, Houston’s rotation finished 12th in league by pitcher WAR. ZiPS’ forecast for the pair suggests the improvements are authentic. Consider: last year, Keuchel and McHugh were projected to produce a combined -0.2 WAR; this year, 5.7 WAR.-Carson Cistulli"
"51. Dallas Keuchel – His 2.93 ERA last year was predicated mostly on ground balls. Ground balls are fine, but they’re not safe to count on every year. Or “Bleh!” as The Count would say. They’re not as safe as a 96 MPH fastball. Last year, Keuchel had 89 MPH stuff, and the league’s best ground ball rate (63.5%). His career rate is 58.4%, and his previous high was 55.8%. Ground balls are susceptible to luck. If a ball bounces through, there’s nothing the pitcher can do. In 2013, lots of balls bounced through and Keuchel had a 5.15 ERA. Keuchel can be useful or better, but it’s gonna come down to, er, being down with his pitches. 2015 Projections: 11-12/3.81/1.27/140-Grey"
"He had what I consider to be the holy grail of pitching: a fantastic ground ball rate, pinpoint control, and perhaps the weakest link of the trio (but still a good enough to get by), an 18.0% strikeout rate. All of this rolled up into a 3.63 SIERA and 3.58 xFIP in 2013. We missed, but it’s worth bringing up, even in retrospect, if only to make the point that Keuchel’s breakout in 2014 was actually even more trustworthy than just his 2014 numbers."
Table Courtesy of Baseball Professor
More from Climbing Tal's Hill
- Just how much better is the Houston Astros playoff rotation than the rest?
- Houston Astros: A Lineup Change to Spark Offense
- Astros prospect Hunter Brown throws 6 shutout innings in debut
- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer
If I were my father-in-law, I might now keep Dallas Keuchel. In my ESPN Manager League, we have someone who I call a pitcher hoarder with the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Madison Bumgarner, Gerrit Cole, and Jacob DeGroom. So with the lack of pitching and minimum of 3 pitchers to be kept rule, maybe Keuchel is keepable.
He will either lead the Astros to the playoffs, or become the latest Astros installment of Lucas Harrell. Keuchel is not a pitcher to reach for, but he will be a good fall-back option if you miss some of the mid-tier guys.
I trust him to pitch similar to 2014 in 2015, so I trust him. It is sure nice to be able to have a discussion about Astros in Fantasy Baseball again. Have a great draft!
What’s next in the series?
January 2nd, 2015 – Astros in your Fantasy Part 1: Astros Top 10 prospects
February 6th, 2015 – Astros in your Fantasy Part 6: Dallas Keuchel
February 13th, 2015 – Astros in your Fantasy Part 7 : Luke Gregerson
February 27th, 2015 – Astros in your Fantasy Part 9: Colby Rasmus
March 6th, 2015 – Astros in your Fantasy Part 10: Starting Rotation