Astros News

Astros AM Breakdown: Groundballs were Dallas Keuchel’s best friend

codypoage
HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08: Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the Chicago White Sox at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08: Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the Chicago White Sox at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Oh, look, the Astros swept the White Sox in four games. If only a World Series title was on the line.

Astros’ starter Dallas Keuchel generated 17 groundballs Sunday afternoon against the White Sox. In fact, the 17 groundballs were the most in any start this season for Keuchel. While groundballs by pitchers are not sexy, it was encouraging to see Keuchel generate his highest total of the season. After all, Keuchel is known for his ability to generate groundballs. 

On a larger scope though, Keuchel hasn’t generated the the same high percentage of groundballs that he has in the past. Let’s take a look at his groundball percentage dating back to 2014.

2014: 63.5%

2015: 61.7%

2016: 56.7%

2017: 66.8%

2018: 55.3%

Interestingly enough, the season Keuchel struggled the most was when his groundball rate dropped below 60% in 2016. Over 168 innings that year, the bearded southpaw posted a 4.55 ERA and 3.87 FIP. Over 116 1/3 innings this season, Keuchel has a 3.95 ERA and 3.78 FIP. While there is a notable difference in ERA by more than half-a-run, his FIP thus far in 2018 is similar to his 2016 final product. That said, I cannot jump to the conclusion that Keuchel’s lack of groundballs this season is the only reason behind the drop in numbers. But it does seem to be one reason.

All in all though, Keuchel had a terrific start against the White Sox. 

7 IP, 6 H, ER, 3 BB, 2 SO, 104 pitches-63 strikes 

While his appearance wasn’t a dominant one, it still reminds people that Keuchel is a quality major league pitcher. If you’d wish Keuchel wasn’t starting games anymore for the Astros, well, stop. A 3.95 ERA and 3.78 FIP over 116 1/3 innings is better than the league average for starting pitchers.

Next: Astros are rumored to be interested in Jose Abreu? Why?

For as much admiration as the Astros’ farm system receives, they do not have a pitcher in the minors right now who can fill Keuchel’s role. And, no, I wouldn’t move Brad Peacock or Collin McHugh to the rotation over Keuchel right now. All I can suggest is to leave the Astros’ lone left-handed starter alone. And I wouldn’t bet against Keuchel.

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