Not too long ago, it seemed as if Dallas Keuchel had all but locked up the 2015 American League CY Young. The Houston Astros were going to win the division, and Sonny Gray (presumably his top competition) began to struggle for the last-place A’s. Then, the trade that changed the baseball landscape was publicized: David Price to the hard-hitting Toronto Blue Jays.
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This trade seemingly only added a little competition, Keuchel still had it locked up for the first place Astros, right? Well, it didn’t take long for Price to turn his new team into the first place Blue Jays, carrying an 8-1 record and a Kershaw-esque 1.95 ERA since the deal. Even then, Keuchel still looked poised to hold the trophy, until September 11th. The Astros lead had diminished to .5 games, and they faced off against the very team breathing down their neck in unarguably the most important game of the season to that point.
Keuchel isn’t the same on the road as at home, however, his 3.64 ERA is respectable, but in this one pivotal game it was not. Allowing nine earned runs in under 5 IP to the second place Rangers saw his ERA balloon from AL leading 2.22 ERA to 2.56. That very day Price beat the Yankees in a big divisional game and lowered his ERA to 2.46, taking over the AL lead.
I know it seems silly to believe one bad start could lose an award as prestigious as the CY Young, but I hate to say it might. Now the Jays are destined for October while the Astros are holding on to the second wild card after losing two straight to the Angels at home. We still have a couple games left, to go along with presumably two starts left for Keuchel. If the Astros want an October birth for the first time in a decade, Keuchel needs to get his AL-leading win total to 20. His last, however, might be in the most important game they have played since 2005, the Wild Card game.
CTH editor Eric Huysman wrote about Keuchel’s chances after the game where Keuchel gave up nine runs against the Rangers here: Does last night’s game affect Dallas Keuchel’s Cy Young chances? Since he wrote that, the ESPN Cy Young Predictor has not budged from Keuchel winning. We will have to wait to see.