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Astros: Why is there a lack of run support for Dallas Keuchel?

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OAKLAND, CA - MAY 07: Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros pitches against the Oakland Athletics in the first inning at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on May 7, 2018 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - MAY 07: Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros pitches against the Oakland Athletics in the first inning at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on May 7, 2018 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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The lack of run support for Astros LHP Dallas Keuchel is mind-boggling.

The Astros are 6-4 in their last ten games. In that span, Dallas Keuchel went 1-2. The bats woke up against an average Athletics team and busted out 16 runs, thanks to the help of George Springer’s 6-6 night among others. Keuchel was brilliant going eight innings giving up five hits, and 1 earned run and notched himself a win for the first time since April 4th.

He lowered his ERA from near 4.00 to 3.53. However, this offensive outburst and run support for him was not and isn’t always the case. This season, In his two wins the offense scored ten vs. the White Sox and 16 on Monday against the Athletics. In his five losses, the Astros scored a combined four runs. Four.

It is feast or famine with his wins/losses. They blow opponents out in his wins, and the bats are quiet in his losses.

Also, Alternatively, what doesn’t?

10 of those 15 team losses are because they scored 1 or no runs. Something is going on inside the head or beard of Dallas Keuchel. He is 2-5 on the season posting a 3.53 ERA and has allowed 20 earned runs in 51 innings pitched and gave up 3 or more runs in 4 of his eight starts. Being the ground ball pitcher he is, he’s allowed a team high 46 hits. The home runs are also rising. He has given up eight home runs thus far. Keep in mind that has never allowed more than 20 long balls a season in his career.

Health isn’t the issue. And he’s adamant about that quoting; “I feel phenomenal.” And he’s confident that the results will start to emerge. In his 5 losses, Keuchel had given up 17 total earned runs before being pulled.

He had a terrific outing against an average Athletics team On May 7th. So is this an outlier or will this game boost his confidence? If in fact, confidence is an issue.

Remember when I mentioned earlier that the Astros as a team lost 10 games by scoring 1 or 0 runs? Well, five of those losses were all five of Keuchel losses. So, why the lack of run support in his games? That is a question and answer for the locker room. I don’t even want to begin speculating.

In Monday’s game, the offense provided 16 runs for the former CY Young award winner. Sixteen. The Astros provided Keuchel and the bullpen for that matter with 13 insurance runs before adding three more when Tony Sipp was closing the game.

The pitching is so good though.

Houston still has the best-combined ERA at 2.64, in fact, the only team averaging under three runs allowed per game. In fact, in games where Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton all start the Astros are 16-7 and gave up 54 total runs in 23 games. On the other hand, games where McCullers and Keuchel pitch the team is 8-8. In those games, the Astros gave up 54 runs in 16 games.

Lance McCullers is turning things around after a couple of rough starts. Also, with a win last night and a 5-1 record he has given up 19 earned runs. I wanted to find out how much run support each pitcher gets regardless of the decision:

McCullers 8 starts at a 5-1 record, the Astros scored 49 runs.

Verlander’s eight starts and a 3-1 record, the Astros scored 33 runs.

Cole’s eight starts and a 4-1 record, the Astros scored 39 runs.

Morton’s seven starts and a 4-0 record, the Astros scored 36 runs.

NOTE: This Keuchel Stat is before Monday’s 16 run game.

Dallas Keuchel 7 starts and a 1-5 record, the Astros only scored 17 runs.

To be fair, I wrote this article before the floodgates opened on Monday Night and now in Keuchel’s eight starts, at 2-5, the Astros now tally 30 runs for his support.

That number was astonishingly low if you ask me.

So why the lack of offense? Do the Astros play differently when he is pitching? Is it because they are behind when he pitches? Moreover, they are trying to make up runs?

I wanted to analyze further.

How many runs given up by Keuchel vs. the runs scored by the Astros while he was in the game.

In his losses, I looked into the number of runs he gave up versus the number of runs scored for him while he was in the game.

3/30 – 6.0 IP / 3 ER – 1 run scored vs. Doug Fister (1-3) – Current ERA: 4.02

4/10 – 4.0 IP / 3 ER – 1 run scored vs. Jake Odorizzi (3-2) – Current ERA: 3.83

4/16 – 8.0 IP / 2 ER – 1 run scored vs. James Paxton (2-1) – Current ERA: 3.40

4/27 – 7.0 IP / 6 ER – 1 run scored vs. Sean Manaea (4-4) – Current ERA: 2.11

5/2 – 7.0 IP / 3 ER – 0 runs scored vs. Luis Severino (5-1) – Current ERA: 2.21

Besides good pitching by Sean Manaea and Luis Severino, those other pitchers aren’t world beaters, so why couldn’t the Astros muster any offense? Let’s examine how much run support each pitcher receives per game, on average.

Run Support on average when a pitcher pitches:

McCullers gets 6.125 run support per game on average.

Verlander gets 4.125 run support per game on average.

Cole gets 4.875 run support per game on average.

Morton gets 5.14 run support per game on average.

Keuchel, before Monday’s game, got 2.43 runs support per game. That’s total is now up to 4.125 runs, but again, that was one 16 run outing.

In fact, the 2.43 run support per game was the lowest in the league for pitchers with a minimum of 7 started games.

Did the offense get the message?

I could only hope the guys knew I was writing this and got wind of the lack of support they were not offering Keuchel before serving up 16 runs on Monday. Maybe this is a jumpstart the offense as a whole needed to come together. The Astros are 3rd in runs scored with 190 only eight behind the Red Sox and 14 behind the Yankees. They do have the MOST hits currently with 346 and carry the 4th best batting average at .260 combined.

The Astros scored a total of 190 runs this season per 39 games with an average of 4.92 runs per game. That is good for 8th best. In those 39 games, the Astros failed to score more than five runs 21 times and scored 5 or more 18 times.

Of the 21 times they failed to score 5 or more they lost 11 of those games. You cannot tell on any given night how the team will perform, but the law of averages needs to balance out with this Jekyll and Hyde team to not waste quality starts by this amazing rotation. It has been boom or bust all season, and we are almost a quarter of the way through.

Here is a crazy stat. The Astros score more runs on the road (5.95) than they do at the Juice Box (3.84). Maybe they should schedule Keuchel on road games. Keuchel is also more efficient on the road winning 2 of 3 with a 2.81 ERA.

Next: George Springer is heating up at the plate with six hit night

Just some food for thought.

*** Stats courtesy or Baseball-Reference and MLB.com ***

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