Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel did a spectacular job in his major league debut last Sunday, limiting a dangerous Rangers lineup to one run in five innings.
In his second major league appearance, the 24-year-old lefty from Tulsa, Oklahoma was even better.
Keuchel, a seventh-round pick of the ‘Stros in 2009, recorded a complete game on Saturday afternoon at Minute Maid Park as Houston rolled to an 8-1 victory over the American League Central-leading Indians.
Keuchel needed just 108 pitches — 70 of which went for strikes — to carve his way through the Cleveland lineup. He struck out three and walked just one while holding the Tribe to six hits and one earned run.
Keuchel had an underwhelming 4.26 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 46/15 K/BB ratio in 80 1/3 innings at Triple-A Oklahoma City before his promotion to the major leagues. But it’s hard to argue with the results he’s flashed thus far. The young southpaw got an opportunity to show his worth and is absolutely sprinting with it.
Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.
Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.
Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.
What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.
That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.