I entered the 2015 Major League Baseball season thinking the Astros had one glaring weakness. They did not have a legit front line starter. Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh were magical in 2014, but they could not possibly replicate those results. Ultimately, the Astros could not contend with Keuchel pitching against aces and McHugh facing off with number 2’s.
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
As Chevy Chase famously said in Fletch Lives, “It takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong. I am NOT a big man.”
As the season crept nearer this spring, I took my shot at predicting the probable strengths and weaknesses of this Houston Astros club. To me, the clear strength would be the offense. Yes, adding Evan Gattis and Colby Rasmus would mean even more strikeouts to add to Chris Carter and George Springer, but the team would certainly never struggle to score runs. After the acquisitions of Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson, I found the bullpen to be an asset instead of the liability it had been for years. As for the rotation? Well, I liked Keuchel, McHugh, Feldman, and Oberholtzer. I just liked them starting at the number 2 spot in the rotation. I was not a fan of standing pat with that rotation.
A couple of months in, Dallas Keuchel is 4-0 with a 1.39 ERA and already has been honored as the pitcher of the month in the American League for April. Oops.
Collin McHugh is 4-1 after a rough last outing ballooned his ERA to 3.50. Honestly, he has pitched way better than that. His stuff is nasty and you feel the Stros should win every time he takes the bump. Oops again.
Here is my apology to the two aces of the Astros staff:
I, Brian del Castillo – beloved writer for Climbing Tal’s Hill – was wrong. I’m sorry. You two studs have humbled me.
Now, it may still be true that this team is another big time pitcher (and promotion of Correa) away from real contention, but the narrative that Keuchel and McHugh can’t cut it at the top of the rotation is clearly fiction. This has not been smoke and mirrors. The two have been right up there with the best pitching tandems in the majors and I don’t mind admitting that I was wrong. I only hope they continue to rub my face in it and approach 18-20 wins each on the season.