Last season Dallas Keuchel broke out, compiling a 2.93 ERA and a 12-9 record while striking out 146 batters in 200 innings. In 2015, I’m expecting more of the same from the lefty, as he solidifies his name at the top of the Houston Astros rotation.
Keuchel’s 2.93 ERA was good for seventh in the American League, behind only Felix Hernandez (2.14), Chris Sale (2.17), Corey Kluber (2.44), Jon Lester (2.46), Garrett Richards (2.61) and Alex Cobb (2.87). With a slight improvement, say to 2.60 or so, Keuchel should easily find himself in the top-five in ERA, and with that I am predicting that Dallas Keuchel will finish in the top-five in AL Cy Young voting.
While ERA isn’t the only indicator of how a pitcher will finish in the Cy Young race, it’s certainly a start. Even with his superb ERA, Keuchel failed to place in the voting a season ago. Now, with a Gold Golve Award in hand, and a team on the rise, Keuchel should receive the recognition that one needs to be mentioned in the running.
While 12 wins is nice, he has the ability to win a few more in the upcoming season with an improved bullpen backing him up, and an offense that has added some firepower in the offseason. The Steamer is projecting an 11-11 season from Dallas Keuchel, along with a 3.75 ERA, likely due to his FIP being a moderately higher 3.21 last season. Any player that has success seemingly out of nowhere needs to follow that success up the following year before being a legitimate star, and that is the task at hand for the bearded one entering 2015, much as it was the task for former Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson following his excellent 2013 campaign.
Going deeper inside the numbers, in Keuchel’s 12 wins, he allowed a total of 16 runs, or 1.33 per victory. Essentially, if he allowed two runs he may have just pitched himself out of a victory. In his losses, he was less refined, giving up a total of 34 runs, for an average of 3.77. These are total runs, not earned runs, with four of those runs being unearned. With all of these factors, I’m looking at a 15 or 16 win season from Dallas Keuchel, which, coupled with an impressive ERA on an improved Houston team, should be enough to put him in contention for the Cy Young.
I’m also being realistic with this prediction, because while those numbers will enter his name into the discussion and log some votes, his strikeout totals would need a big boost to be one of the top vote getters. Last year’s winner, Kluber, recorded 269 K’s to go along with his 18-9 record and 2.44 ERA.
Being mentioned come awards season is one of the riches that generally comes when a team is nearing contention, and the Houston Astros have plenty of talent on their roster to garner some awards, but the victories may only come on the field this season.
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