Dallas Keuchel was dominant Monday night as he pitched seven innings in a 3-0 win over the Seattle Mariners.
Keuchel allowed just two hits and two walks in his third consecutive Opening Day start for the Houston Astros, the longest streak in H-Town since Roy Oswalt pitched eight from 2002-2010.
Baseball fans will remember Keuchel taking home the AL Cy Young award in 2015 after compiling a 20-8 record and most impressively going 15-0 at Minute Maid, a notoriously hitter friendly ball ballpark. They’ll forget the 9-12 record that followed in a 2016 season ended early by injury.
Keuchel will never be a pitcher that overpowers hitters. His fastball occasionally hits the low 90s, but more commonly resides in the high 80s, a figure that many of todays high school prospects would scoff at.
Keuchel wins when he is able to execute and locate simple pitches while also maintaining repeatable mechanics. He keeps hitters off-balance with location, not power. Which forces them to chase pitches and drive the ball down, leaving Houston’s power-packed infield to do the rest (Dallas ain’t to shabby with a mitt either as his three straight Gold Gloves will attest).
2016 saw experimentation with release points and over-utilization of an under-developed curveball. Keuchels elite 2015 WAR of 7.2 dropped down to 0.5 just one season following his Cy Young winning dominance.
If Mondays performance is any indication the fans in Houston should expect a return to 2015 form. He didn’t throw a single curve and relied primarily on his bread and butter slider to get the job done. Obviously, drawing conclusions from a single games worth of data is an unreasonable move, but SI has made me an unreasonable guy in 2017.