Dallas Keuchel to test his shoulder Thursday during his first bullpen session since August. He is a big part of the plans for the Astros rotation going into 2017.
It is not necessarily breaking news when a pitcher has his first bullpen session with spring training approaching. According to Jake Kaplan, pitchers normally get two sessions before heading to camp. As the Astros rotation takes shape this Spring, people will be searching Twitter to see how Dallas Keuchel‘s first bullpen session went on Thursday.
When you won a Cy Young Award in 2015 and then struggle the next year, people start to wonder who the real Keuchel is. Not saying that Keuchel’s 2015 was all smoke and mirrors, but some expected a regression in 2016. With the Astros rotation in 2016, they could not recover from their ace’s struggles. After a promising 2015, the team missed the playoffs in 2016.
As I have written before, the season will depend on the health and performance of the bearded one. Via Kaplan, Keuchel feels like he is in the best shape of his career with the extra time off. He missed the last part of the season with a shoulder injury. According to some reports, he experienced pain in the shoulder for most of the season. This could explain how he came back to earth in 2016.
Keuchel pitched an AL-high 232 innings in 2015 plus 14 innings in abbreviated playoffs. He told reporters, via Kaplan, that having a shorter offseason following affected him. Keuchel said he didn’t really give his body time to rest. This is not something he will do in the future, and he thinks he will be better in 2017 with extra rest.
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After winning the Cy Young Award, Keuchel put too much pressure on himself. Now with a longer offseason with missing the last five weeks, Keuchel’s arm feels strong. “Another year older, another year wiser,” Keuchel told reporters, “and I feel great. I really do.” If Keuchel can bounce back, the Astros may not need to trade for an elite starter at the trade deadline. The rotation is good as is, and Jake Marisnick feels like they have enough to win.
Marisnick came on Talking Stros last night. He said it would be good to have another starter. But, they have good pitchers as is. A healthy Keuchel will steer the Astros to the promised land. Will the Astros have to trade for Jose Quintana, Chris Archer, or Sonny Gray? The answer will depend on Keuchel, but also Lance McCullers and Collin McHugh.
Save prospects and trust in your ace! We all eagerly wait for what Keuchel does on Thursday, but his goal is to pitch into November. With this offense and defense, a healthy Keuchel will get 20 plus wins in 2017. Dallas, if you are reading this, please join us on Talking Stros soon. Pitchers and catchers report February 12 to the new Palm Beach complex.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***