Unfortunately, the Houston Astros will be without the services of one of their starters this weekend.
As the Houston Astros take on the Texas Rangers this weekend, the previous thought was that southpaw Dallas Keuchel would start either Saturday or Sunday in Arlington. This was an attempt for the team to buy the bearded starter another day or two of rest in response to fatigue.
However, the plan has changed for the short-term. Keuchel will now see his start pushed back to Tuesday when the team travels to Cleveland.
This news is disappointing from the Astros standpoint. The rotation has been shorthanded with Lance McCullers already out with an elbow ailment. Essentially the two pitchers that the Astros relied upon the most in last year’s postseason run are on the mend late in the season.
While the Astros wish that one of the team’s fiercest competitors was available against their chief rival, it may be beneficial that Keuchel doesn’t face the Rangers this go around. Texas hitters have slashed .307/.331/.474 against the left-hander in 114 at-bats.
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Unfortunately, Keuchel has seen his star fade a bit since winning the AL Cy Young award last season. Compared to his stellar 2.48 ERA/2.91 FIP from roughly one year ago, his 2016 stats of 4.55 ERA/3.87 FIP is a disappointment. However, his peripherals have indicated that he has been slightly better than what has been perceived. In fact, his 3.87 FIP/3.55 xFIP is still respectable.
But there is also a noticeable drop in velocity this year that is definitely a reason for concern.
2015 velocity: 89.6 vFA, 89.5 vFT, 86.3 vFC, 79.3 vSL
2016 velocity: 88.3 vFA, 88.6 vFT, 85.6 vFC, 78.0 vSL
Not to mention the raised home run rate (16.4%) and BABIP (.304). However, this season could just be a blip on the radar. The lowered velocity probably is the most concerning factor going forward with Keuchel’s game. We will see if he can start his rebound this Tuesday against the Indians.
**Statistics provided by Baseball Reference and Fangraphs**