Wednesday afternoon has already given us three games. The Giants beat the Marlins 1-0. The Dodgers host the Phillies in game that started about an hour ago, and the Nationals are hosting the Indians in a game that is just under way.
Dallas Keuchel will start for the Astros on Wednesday evening, taking on the Twins’ Ervin Santana. His last time out on Friday, Keuchel tossed a shutout on three hits and a pair of walks with seven strikeouts. It’s his first complete game of the season after tossing three of them last year, helping him win the American League Cy Young Award. Indeed, it’s been a rough year for Keuchel. He’ll enter tonight’s start with a lackluster 4.56 ERA with a 126/45 K/BB ratio in 148 innings.
Relative to last year, Keuchel’s strikeout rate is down about 3.5 percent and his walk rate is up nearly two percent. He’s inducing fewer ground balls and allowing more home runs. Overall, batters are making contact classified by FanGraphs as “hard” more than eight percent more often than they did last year. The lefty has also lost about 1 MPH on all of his pitches, including his fastball. There’s lots of evidence that Keuchel is, simply, a worse pitcher now. But he’s redeemable.
The 58-55 Astros have a tough road ahead of them if they want to win the AL West, as they’re currently in third place, 8.5 games behind the first-place Rangers. But they’re only four games out of the second AL Wild Card slot, currently held by the Red Sox. If Keuchel can use his last start as a springboard to finish the final two months of the season in elite fashion, the Astros could slip into the playoffs for a second consecutive year.
The rest of Wednesday’s action…
Houston Astros (Dallas Keuchel) @ Minnesota Twins (Ervin Santana), 8:10 PM EDT
Baltimore Orioles (Yovani Gallardo) @ Oakland Athletics (Ross Detwiler), 10:05 PM EDT