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Dallas Keuchel is back to 2015 form

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In 2015, Astros starter Dallas Keuchel won the American League Cy Young Award after posting a stellar 2.48 ERA and 1.017 WHIP in 33 starts. He also struck out 216 batters in a league-high 232 innings. In the playoffs he led the Astros to a win over the Yankees in the American League Wild Card Game, tossing six shutout innings.

Heading into 2016 it was expected that Keuchel would once again anchor the Astros’ staff. Unfortunately, it was a bad campaign for the sinkerballer. He had a shoulder injury and, even when he was pitching, he suffered command problems. He finished the season with a 9-12 record and a 4.55 ERA. His hits and walks allowed were up and his strikeouts were down. The sinker wasn’t sinking and his groundball percentage was down. Even when the ball was hit on the ground, it found holes, with his BABIP going from an excellent .269 in 2015 to .304 last year.

Heading into this season, the biggest question the Astros had was whether their rotation would be good enough to help the team get back to the playoffs. If Keuchel could be an ace again, the club would be in good shape. If not, [cliche movie quote about problems/Houston deleted]. Well, the club is in good shape again.

Keuchel has gone exactly seven innings in each of his first four starts. He allowed zero runs in his first start of the year and one each in the next three, including last night’s win over the Angels. He’s 3-0 with 22 strikeouts and only six walks in 28 innings and a 0.96 ERA. He has been inducing grounders at a 70% clip and opposing hitters have a mere .194 average on balls in play.

In other words, Keuchel is Keuchel again. And because of that it’s no accident that the Astros are tied for the most wins in baseball.

Tim Tebow homered in his first at-bat with Single-A St. Lucie

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Mets minor league outfielder and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow was recently promoted from Single-A Columbia to advanced Single-A St. Lucie. Critics suggested that, because Tebow wasn’t exactly lighting up competition with Columbia, the promotion was just about marketing.

Tebow, to his credit, has gotten off to a good start with St. Lucie. In his first at-bat with his new team, he hit a two-run home run, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead. The home run came on a 3-1 count against starter Junior Fernandez of the Palm Beach Cardinals. Fernandez is the Cardinals’ No. 10 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

With Columbia, Tebow was hitting a paltry .220/.311/.336 with three home runs and 23 RBI in 244 plate appearances.

Cardinals option Aledmys Diaz to Triple-A

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The Cardinals announced on Wednesday that shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been optioned to Triple-A Memphis and infielder Alex Mejia’s contract has been purchased from Memphis.

Diaz, 26, impressed last season when he posted an .879 OPS and finished fifth in National League Rookie of the Year balloting. This year has been rough on Diaz, as he’s batting .260/.293/.396 with seven home runs and 20 RBI in 288 plate appearances. He’s the second major Cardinals player to get sent down to the minors along with Randal Grichuk.

Diaz was surprised by the demotion. Via MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch:

Mejia, 26, opened the season with Double-A Springfield but was promoted to Triple-A two weeks ago. With Springfield, he hit .251/.305/.366 in 251 PA. In 42 PA with Memphis, he hit .263/.333/.289.