Astros: Dallas Keuchel to start Friday

ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 2: Dallas Keuchel
ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 2: Dallas Keuchel /

Here ye, here ye! The long-awaited return of the Astros’ majestically bearded king has finally arrived!

In case you haven’t been following the Astros since June 2nd, then you probably didn’t know that Dallas Keuchel has been missing in action. You can thank a pinched nerve in the neck for that unwelcome development.

Don’t worry, though, as Houston’s ace starter is scheduled to pitch tomorrow.

You can jump for glee now.

Somehow, the Astros have managed to post a 67-34 record despite its best starter being on the mend for eight weeks. The team’s strong season up to this point just speaks to the volumes of talent Jeff Luhnow has accumulated on the roster.

The hope for the rest of the season is that Keuchel picks up where he left off.

2017 statistics: 9-0 W-L, 1.67 ERA, 3.12 FIP, 2.91 xFIP, 24.4% K%, 6.4% BB%, 67.4% GB% in 75.2 innings

The starting rotation with Keuchel’s return is arguably at its strongest this season. Not only did Collin McHugh returned last weekend, the Astros also have received impressive performances from Brad Peacock and Mike Fiers since June. Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton are back in the rotation after lengthy DL stints as well.

Thanks to the return of Keuchel, the Astros front office is now less likely to trade for another quality starting pitcher. Instead of concentrating their efforts leading up to the deadline on starters like Sonny Gray, Yu Darvish and Justin Verlander, the front office is now free to devote their resources towards the bullpen. Preferably one of the left-handed type. Zach Britton, Brad Hand and Justin Wilson are the most likely targets.

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The Astros will need a healthy starting rotation to go far in the postseason. Keuchel’s health is a key piece to this puzzle. If the 2015 Cy Young winner can pitch like he is capable of in the postseason then Houston’s chance of going far only improves.

**Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs**