Update (8:13 PM ET): Well, so much for that. Keuchel was scratched from Wednesday’s start due to an illness, per FOX Sports Kansas City.
The Astros lost on Tuesday night in walk-off fashion, ending the team’s 11-game winning streak. But another impressive streak is still alive: Dallas Keuchel has yet to suffer a loss this season through 11 starts. He enters Wednesday’s start against the Royals with a sterling 9-0 record and has a chance to make it 10-0 if he continues to pitch as well as he has been this season.
Along with the spotless record, Keuchel also leads the majors with a 1.67 ERA and a 0.872 WHIP. With that, he carries a terrific 69/18 K/BB ratio in 75 2/3 innings.
Keuchel led the league in wins with 20 when he won the AL Cy Young Award in 2015, but he didn’t get to 10 wins until his 17th start and he lost three games in the process.
Keuchel has been one big reason why the Astros have, by far, baseball’s best record at 42-17. The team with the next-best record is the Nationals at 37-20.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.