The Houston Astros‘ starting rotation was not expected to be a strong point for the team this season. The rotation is filled with names the casual baseball fan wouldn’t know. It has names that even a hardcore baseball fan may have never heard of. One of those names is Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel, a 26-year-old left-hander who has emerged as the Astros’ ace, is currently one of the top pitchers in the American League and should be an All-Star.
Midway through 2014, Keuchel has climbed into the top 15 of almost every important pitching statistic in the American League. He is currently seventh in ERA with 2.78. His WHIP (Walks & Hits per Innings Pitched) is at a very solid 1.10 which is good enough for fifth on the list of starting pitchers. His eight wins are enough to put him in a tie for eighth.
Perhaps the most important stat when it comes to any player in the major leagues, his WAR (Wins Above Replacement) ratings is second in the American League amongst pitchers and fourth in all of MLB. Only rookie pitcher Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees ranks higher for pitchers in the American League.
Keuchel’s success has come from keeping the ball in the ballpark. He is getting nearly double the ground balls than he is fly balls and has only given up five home runs all season. Batters are only hitting .234 against him and he is striking out eight batters per nine innings. Keuchel is also stifling the opposing team’s run game. Only three stolen-base attempts have been made against him so far this year, two of which have been caught stealing.
He may not be the most popular name on the list of top starting pitchers in the American League, but he is very deserving of an All-Star bid. If he can stay healthy, he may give the Astros what they, and every other team, needs in their rotation, a lefty anchor that can halt the opposing team’s run game while shutting down their offense at the same time. For Houston, Keuchel may end up being a diamond in the rough.