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Astros review: Grading Dallas Keuchel’s 2018 season

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CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 08: Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros pitches in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians during Game Three of the American League Division Series at Progressive Field on October 8, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 08: Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros pitches in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians during Game Three of the American League Division Series at Progressive Field on October 8, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Perhaps his final season as an Astro, Dallas Keuchel was a key fixture in the success story of the club’s 2018 season.

Following injury shortened seasons in 2016 and 2017, the Astros needed a healthy Keuchel for 2018. Not only did the team need him, I’m sure that the bearded southpaw made it a personal goal to make it through the season relatively healthy. Well, he did along with quality results.

Pitching numbers: 204 2/3 IP, 3.74 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 17.5% K%, 6.6% BB%, 3.6 fWAR

While Keuchel didn’t come close to replicating his Cy Young campaign in 2015, the long-time Houston starter performed well. For the first time in three years, he finished with more than 200 innings pitched and stayed well below the league-average in ERA (4.27) for the American League. The Astros didn’t win another World Series, but he was a key part in the team’s success, which included a franchise-best 103 wins along with a trip to the ALCS. He also won his fourth-career Gold Glove. He performed like a quality pitcher, who’ll be paid handsomely in the offseason.

However, we did see Keuchel strike out less hitters at a lesser rate than his rookie season in 2012 (10.1%). Opposing lineup’s contact rate soared by nearly six percent up to 81.6% overall. Hitters were also less inclined to swing against Keuchel as his swinging strike rate dropped by 2.6% compared to last year. To his credit though, he did reduce the rate of walks allowed while pumping up his average pitch velocity slightly.

Keuchel’s most notable letdown was in the first inning of games he started. Here is an inning breakdown by ERA:

  • 1st – 6.88
  • 2nd – 2.65
  • 3rd – 2.12
  • 4th – 1.64
  • 5th – 4.88
  • 6th – 4.12
  • 7th – 5.40

Regular season grade: B+

In the postseason, Keuchel once again showed why he is considered one of the better left-handers in the game today. In both starts, which lasted five innings each, Keuchel held the Indians and Red Sox lineups to only two runs each. He wasn’t dominant, sure, but he gave the Astros quality innings in the postseason. In fact, he did better in the ALCS than Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton. If his Game 3 start at Minute Maid Park during the ALCS was his last sporting the classic H-star, so be it. It is a good memory to have seeing a solid Keuchel performance with a game still within reach at the time.

Next. Astros Injury Update: Murky 2019 forecast for Lance McCullers Jr.. dark

Postseason grade: B+

Overall, Keuchel had a fine season in his likely last one as an Astro. He was exactly who Houston needed him to be. There is nothing wrong with that. I’m sure we’ll do a proper send off for Keuchel when the time comes, but this is a nice temporary piece as the offseason continues to build.

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